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Relationships With Holden In The Catcher In The Rye

1793 words - 7 pages

Relationships with Holden in The Catcher in the Rye

‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is written from a first person narrative to
be able to convey to the reader Holdens thoughts and feelings and this
makes his character seem more believable. Holden describes what he
himself sees and experiences, providing his own commentary on the
events and people he describes. It takes the form of, perhaps, a
session with a psychoanalyst or a one sided conversation with the
reader during which Holdens attitudes to other people emerges. We
learn that he finds it very difficult to maintain relationships with
people and I will be examining Holden’s relationship with adults and
with his sister and how they differ.

Holdens attitude towards adults is very much the same; he is polite
and respectful. He prefers to avoid issues with them, for example,
with his history teacher he tries to avoid the fact that he is failing
in all but one of his subjects. He does not like to talk about his
emotions with anyone and instead he isolates himself to show that that
he is better than everyone else around him. However, the truth is that
relationships with other people usually make him uncomfortable and his
belief in his own superiority is there to protect himself. He attempts
to be grown up and sophisticated, but, often fails.

The episode with Holden’s history teacher, Mr Spencer, is a good
example of how Holden behaves in the company of adults. When Holden
visits him he talks about how Mr Spencer is wrapped up in a blanket
and that there is “pills and medicine all over the place and
everything smelt like Vicks Nose Drops”. He is quite bothered about
the fact that he is in an atmosphere he considers as unpleasant and
describes it as being “depressing”. When Mr Spencer begins to talk to
Holden about why he is leaving Pencey Prep School he tells him that
“Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the
rules”. However, Holden reacts negatively to this statement and
although he does not say it he thinks; “Game, my ass. Some game. If
you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all
right—I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there
aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.”
This indicates to the reader his silent dislike for adults and is
shown by the mocking of Mr Spencer. We also see how alienated he
feels; he clearly identifies with those on the “other side” of the
game, and he feels as though he is alone and that the world is against
him. Mr Spencer continues to talk to Holden about his academic life
which irritates Holden as he does not like talking about it and would
prefer to avoid the issue.

Holden then begins to wish he had not come and whilst Mr Spencer is
lecturing him Holden’s mind begins to wonder about the ducks in
Central Park. This shows how he is reluctant to admit to his problems
and how he prefers to avoid issues that he does not want to...

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