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Sympathy Lacking In J.D Salinger´S A Catcher In The Rye

2183 words - 9 pages

“May peace and comfort find you during this difficult time” (qtd from treesforachange.com), a set of sympathetic words that can be uttered to a loved one during their time of need. Some may believe that these are words that should be said to the protagonist of J.D. Salinger's coming of age novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield is a troubled adolescent who longs for sympathy because he is often regretful, sad, lonely and cannot let go of the past. Instead though, because he puts himself in melancholy moods due to his personality, improper feelings or by running away from his problems, it is also believed that Holden is undeserving of this sympathy. It is difficult to feel sympathy ...view middle of the document...

If he was motivated and still failed, he would be able to receive sympathy because he actually tried. Furthermore, Holden also makes excuses for his mistakes. Despite he is “the goddam manager of the fencing team. [Which is a] very big deal” (3), Holden “[leaves all the foils and equipment and stuff on the goddam subway” (3). As the manager, Holden should be responsible for his team's equipment. He should be the one to take responsibility for forgetting about it. Instead, he makes an excuse saying “It wasn't all [his] fault. [He] had to keep getting up to look at [the] map” (3). He makes the excuse because he is not sorry for his actions. If he avoided making the excuse he would take the blame and be able to give his team a sincere apology. This mistake causes “the whole team [to ostracize him]” (3), which means to isolate and exclude him. Holden should receive sympathy for being lonely once again, but since he makes an excuse and treats being excluded as a joke, thinking “it was pretty funny, in a way” (3) one should not feel sorry for him. Everyone makes mistakes once in a while, but for these reasons he does not deserve any sympathy. As for the latter, Holden also tells lies to acquire sympathy and dodge personal questions. When he leaves Pencey Prep early, he meets another student's mother on the subway. After conversing for a while, she notices that “Christmas vacation would start on Wednesday,” (58), so she is concerned that Holden has “illness in the family” (58). She is honestly concerned for Holden, “she really looked worried about it. She wasn't just being nosy” (58). Holden though, instead of telling the truth, he lies, saying he “[has] to have this operation” (58). In response to the lie, the woman is ”so sorry ... she really was, too” (58) Holden is “right away sorry he said it” (58). Holden tells the lie to avoid talking about his personal life, but he regrets it when the lady starts feeling concerned for him. He receives sympathy for a lie he tells to avoid talking about his problems, and for this reason Holden does not deserve sympathy. Even though he means no harm, Holden's personality includes being insincere and unmotivated, which make it difficult to give him sympathy when he feels down or regretful.
In addition to his personality, Holden, in some scenarios, has improper feelings. Holden reacts to some situations inappropriately which makes it hard to feel sympathy for what happens in the aftermath. To begin with, Holden meets with a prostitute during his stay at a hotel. The prostitute, Sunny, just wants to get her job done, and after she undresses, Holden feels uncomfortable. Holden, the self titled “sex maniac” (62) should be eager to lose his virginity, he should feel sexy. Instead, “sexy [is] about the last thing [he feels]. He [feels] much more depressed than sexy” (95). He feels strange when she undresses because she does it so “sudden and all” (95). Meeting with the prostitute depresses Holden because he in a way...

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