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Catcher In The Rye (Context And Analysis)

1733 words - 7 pages

Catcher In The RyeContext and AnalysisCatcher in the Rye is a story of a young boy, Holden Caulfield's coming of age. It takes place at a time when he has been kicked out of 4 schools for failing to 'apply' himself. After being kicked out of his latest school he decides to take a 'vacation' before finally returning home to face his parents' imminent and inevitable wrath.Holden Caulfield in a way personifies teenage angst and dilemma. He does not wish to become an adult in the sense that he does not want to work and earn money and live a phony existence but, he does want to become an adult to drink, smoke and get "laid". For Holden the concept of adulthood is a very narrow perception of the society of which he is a sworn critique. Holden fears maturity and he must overcome this fear to be a responsible member of the society.Holden sees the world and all people as either 'phony' or pure. He is convinced of the fact that the world's biggest problem is its 'phoniness' and that now it is so full of phonies that he is disgusted to be a member of it (the society). For Holden, the only pure person in the world are Jane, Allie, Phoebe and the two nuns that he met at the station. Everyone else he meets has atleast some traits of 'phoniness' in them. He is shattered by the very thought that a terrible phony like Stradlater could have 'made out' with the only girl that he had ever liked and probably loved, Jane Gallagher. He fights with Stradlater over this and ends up with a bloodied nose. This fight and humiliation is the 'last straw that breaks the camel's back' and Holden decides to leave the school right there and then. He has already been expelled and there is nothing to hold him back anyway, but it is significant in the way that he atleast decides something from himself. In a small and maybe insignificant way he does take a tentative step toward maturity.Holden is overcome by the question of sex and it seems to be the main hinge on which the whole story revolves. Sex and women take precedence over anything and everything else in this novel. He seems to be in a terrible hurry to prove his virility and his decision of a vacation only adds further complexity to his already claustrophobic life as a teenager. He tries to impress upon the mother of a fellow student by telling her false tales about her 'shy' and 'good' son whereas in reality her son was one of the worst characters in the whole of Pencey. He does that probably because he does not want to say the truth and in this way makes himself 'phony' by his own definition but it may be also due to his self confessed declaration that he found the woman sexually appealing.As soon as he checks into the Hotel Edmont he is confronted by a whole new world of 'perverts'. He sees a crossdresser and a couple spitting water at each other. However, inspite of his initial disgust he is somehow compelled to watch and enjoy it. He is so aroused that he proceeds to call up this girl, Faith Cavendish who is a stripper...

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