Holden Caulfield Is Lost In The Catcher In The Rye

1691 words - 7 pages

In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, the leading character, Holden Caulfield, emerges as an adolescence lost in his own private world of pain and suffering, yet ostensibly he was able to provide himself with all the luxuries and splendors of American society. Holden is presented as a failure who struggles to stay in at least one of the four schools he's been kicked out of. This can reflect that Holden can't manage to get by in life. Throughout the book, it is obvious that Holden is running from so many things such as growing up, reality and people who are phonies. It seems that Holden is confused and trapped in memories from moments past, that he is dealing with loneliness and isolates himself as a form of protection. Not only that but he lacks parental attention therefore, is desperate for companionship. Holden says, "The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. . . . Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you." (Salinger 121) This passage in Chapter 16, demonstrates that he is confused and feared that he doesn't know how to deal with change. This may be because of troubling memories or ideas that he chooses not to focus on or has difficulty focusing on. Holden sets out for the reader the underlying theme of Sigmund Freud's work regarding the unconscious state. Freud believed that there are three levels of consciousness in the mind: the conscious, the preconscious, and the unconscious. "The contents of the unconscious cannot be brought directly into consciousness simply by focusing on them; they are brought into consciousness only with great difficulty, if at all. With so much of the contents of the mind mired in the unconscious, we remain unaware of our deepest wishes, ideas, and urges." (Nevid 469) In Holden's case, his unconsciousness level of the mind is what prevents him from being able to go about his life.
Holden seems to be lonely and this can reflect back to Allie's death. He doesn't really have anyone to catch him from falling into the ravine, off the rye field the way he would catch the kids. He doesn't have anyone to motivate him to succeed. The reader is taken back and forth between Holden's remembering and re-living the traumatic pain of his past with his family and the complete disconnect he has experienced. Allie's death changed all of Holden's family as well as himself. It's almost as if when Allie died, the household died. When Holden broke the windows in the garage, on the night Allie died, he said, "My hand still hurts me once in a while when it rains and all, and I can't make a real fist... I mean I'm not going to be a goddam surgeon or violinist or anything anyway" (Salinger 39). This disconnect Holden is experiencing between him and his parents is causing him to lose motivation to succeed in school and in life. According to Freud, it's Holden's unconscious state of mind that drives his defense mechanism to seclude himself from...

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