Emotional Damage, Hidden Truths, and Accepting Responsibility in
J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
When one finds themselves in a reader’s position, they search for things in the novel that they can relate to. J. D. Salinger wrote a story that contained countless topics that people, past, present and future, can relate to in several ways. The novel follows the story of a troubled boy named Holden who leaves school due to his poor academic performance, an altercation with his roommate, and complications with his emotions due to the traumatic loss of his brother. He quickly understands how his narrow view of the world will lead him into trouble when he finds himself alone. The reader accompanies Holden through his stressful experiences over a period of three days through which we learn of his pain-filled past and negative outlook on the future. Some of the barriers Holden came upon during the time period of the novel are themes of everyday life. In The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger intends to grab his audience’s attention with the story of a young teen named Holden Caulfield who must face emotional damage, hidden truths, and accepting responsibility
Holden’s inabilities to sustain a normal life, according to the standards of people in modern times, led to him contemplate his life and the emotional damage he suffered from. His parents were preoccupied with their lifestyle and keeping up with appearances to really teach him good values. Due to the complex childhood that he experienced Holden found himself unable to connect to anyone other than his brother Allie, who suddenly passes during his childhood. After Allie dies Holden goes through a period of psychological dysfunction where he loses sense of not only his life, but his surrounding environment. Holden’s emotional damage stems from an absence of family unity, the loss of his brother, and a battle to gain his sanity.
As previously stated, family unity was heavily inconsistent throughout Holden’s childhood. It is as if Holden used his family’s dysfunction as a crutch to deem his behavior acceptable. Holden’s insecurities began with his parents and their fear to show who and what they really were, which influenced him to do the same (Salinger 1). After his brother died, Holden’s parents chose to ship him to school after school and had little contact with him. His parents did not even know he had been kicked out of school. Holden knew his parents would be highly upset that he had been kicked out of school, so he hesitated going home until they had calmed down from the letter (Salinger 28). This lack of family values and sense of disconnect, among other things, had a great impact on Holden’s emotional status.
The loss of a loved one isn’t a rare occasion in our society. As we grow and mature, situations and life-changing experiences slowly break down our happy memories until only fragments remain. Salinger discusses heavily on this subject in The Catcher in the Rye. Research states that “it...