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Violence In The Catcher In The Rye

926 words - 4 pages


Violence in the Catcher in the Rye

      Often, simple physical conflicts are used to develop characters and to increase the suspense and action between them. In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield the 16-year-old narrator and protagonist claims to be a pacifist. Holden views the world as an evil and corrupt place where there is no peace. As a sincere person living amongst phonies, he views others as completely immoral and unscrupulous. In the novel violence is used to further develop Holden's character. This is shown through his physical conflict with Stradlater, his conflict with Maurice, and the suicide of James Castle.
      In his conflict with Stradlater, Holden's character as protector of the pure and innocent is shown. First Holden is forced to defend the memory of his brother Allie. Holden writes a report for Stradlater about a glove, which belonged to his treasured younger brother Allie who has passed away to the cause of leukemia. As a result of Stradlater's criticism on the subject, Holden destroys the composition saying, 'All right, give it back to me, then,' I said. I went over and pulled it right out of his goddam hand. Then I tore it up.';(Salinger 41) Holden admires Allie, and his baseball glove, and is forced to protect his honor. Next Holden is upset, and worried about Jane's date with Stradlater. He fears that Stradlater is determined to steal Jane's innocence. He explains, 'If you knew Stradlater, you'd have been worried, too. I'd double-dated with the bastard a couple of times, and I know what I'm talking about. He was unscrupulous.';(Salinger 40) Holden acknowledges Jane's purity and wishes not to have to think otherwise with Stradlater. Holden feels the responsibility to defend the pure and the innocent. Besides his conflict with Stradlater, he is also involved in a physical battle with Maurice.
      Holden's conflict with Maurice demonstrates his sincerity and his hatred in the evilness of the phony. Primarily, Holden is vigorously pushed to protect himself from Maurice. Holden arranges to spend time with Sunny a prostitute, and later is forced to pay double the agreed amount by Maurice, the hotel elevator operator. Maurice demands, 'Want your parents to know you spent the night with a whore? High-class kid like you?' He was pretty sharp, in his crumby way. He really was. 'Leave me alone. If you'd said ten, it'd be different. But you distinctly.';(Salinger 102) Holden is struggling to secure himself, by attempting to end the fight. Secondly, the evilness of the phony is shown during his conflict with Maurice. Holden cries, 'All of a sudden I started to cry. I'd give anything if I hadn't, but I did. 'No, you're no crooks,' I said. 'You're just...

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