The Essay "Values Vanish Into Thin Air" Is Based On The Book "The Catcher In The Rye"(J.D. Salinger) And Analyzes How Holden Caulfield Criticizes The Modern Society In Different Ways

786 words - 3 pages

VALUES VANISH INTO THIN AIRThe Catcher in the Rye negatively criticizes society's way of living and the"American Dream" most people look for their whole life, although for the majority of thepeople this remains a utopia just out of reach. Modern society very nearly lost both its idealsand its sense of direction. We have developed into a society of "phony" philistines.All of society is based on a superficiality which makes it impossible for Holden to findreal friends and depresses him. Only Phoebe really understands Holden, because he cancommunicate with her without being superficial. However, whenever he really wants todiscuss his problems with anyone, they turn away from him. For instance, when he asks thetaxi driver about the ducks in the Central Park, Horwitz tells him it is "a stupid thing"(pg.82;6) to ask. The meeting with Sally is another typical example. Sally does not understandhis views and arguments or why he wants to abandon both his family and New York City fora lonely life in the country. Actually, she often does not even "know what he is talkingabout"(pg.131,8&9). She sees everything much more realistically and knows his plans willnot work and finally she refuses to go with him (pg.130-134). Also, the conservation withCarl Luce, which is shortly after the meeting with Sally, ends with Carl advising Holden tosee a psychologist, after Holden tried to conduct a serious conservation (pg.143-149). Hisconservations show that Holden is a critical, thoughtful teenager who seriously thinks aboutthings but he does not fit into this society. This character dissociates him from other teenagersand even many adults who live solely on their superficiality and society's whim.Money and success have become the most important values of an American societysearching for the utopian "American Dream" that was an integral part of the Americanpropaganda machine during and before Holden's generation. These new values replaced thetraditional, important values like simply enjoying life. Holden's parents epitomize this newAmerican way of living. His father is a corporate lawyer which makes his family quitewealthy. Admittedly, they are more concerned about Holden's career than his life itself. Theyspend a lot of money on expensive boarding schools without realizing that Holden hatesschool. He wants not a well-paying job, but rather to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Hedevelops his own values instead of assuming society's like most people do. The three...

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