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Holden Caulfield Of The Catcher In The Rye, By J.D. Salinger

2381 words - 10 pages

When one’s imagination becomes the director and producer of his thoughts and actions, he loses touch with reality. The ideas and plans are in a chaotic time slot; loneliness becomes the major factor in forming erratic thoughts and actions. In the novel A Catcher in the Rye, J.D Salinger gives insight to the protagonist’s thoughts, experiences, and frustrations in his world. Holden Caulfield’s instinctive desire to be a savior of the innocents evolves, and many times in the story, he faces disappointment. The internal struggles arise when his imagination draws him into situations in which he is unable, but wants desperately to be the hero. The world around him including his peers, family, and random encounters, are those conflicts, which are the externally trenchant ones. The external and internal influences on Holden blend to create an overall frustration, dislike, and pessimistic outlook on his present environment. When a Holden loses confidence in him and in the world, he develops a hopeless view of his and the world’s future. J. D. Salinger depicts the chaotic external and internal conflicts that plague the protagonist Holden Caulfield in his The Catcher in the Rye.
An important external conflict is seen in Holden’s relationship with his parents. According to Holden his parents are neither close nor personal with him; he is always in search of adult care. Salinger records very little, if any at all, conversation between Holden and his parents; they seldom show much cognizance of him as their son. Holden’s father is an attorney, a profession that Holden does not respect, and makes no attempt to conceal his opinion. He states: “All you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink martinis and look like hot-shots” (Salinger 172). His mother pays little attention to any of Holden’s thoughts or acts. The loss of Holden’s younger brother, Allie, has brought great pain and misery to Holden’s mother; Mrs. Caulfield has never recovered from the loss of this young son. Holden’s only familial affection and association is with his sister Phoebe, with whom he shares his thoughts and secrets. His suffering, because of the lack of parental affection and attention, results in unbalanced proportions. Carl Straucher writes, “Had there been deeper concern from his parents instead of the aimless existence at expensive private boarding schools, Holden’s life would have been better and a more comforting place”(17). His parents are very concerned about their own reputation and the opinion of people around them. Susan Mitchell opines, “The Caulfields are hypertensive about Holden’s revealing their personal life, because they want to protect their created image of conformed perfection”(131). Holden is a problem to them; their solution is transferring him to several schools when he is expelled from one after another. Holden is intelligent and can make the grade to stay in the schools, but his depression and...

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