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The catcher in the rye

Holden Caulfield - a Usual Teenager

Holden Caulfield is the main character of "The catcher in the rye” written by J. D. Salinger. As a story-teller he is 17. But in the story itself he appears to be 16. Therefore, he is a teenager.

He is quite poor at learning. He has managed to fail in 4 subjects out of 5, except for English. His sister and brothers are much brighter though. "As a matter of fact, I’m the only dumb one in my family”.

Holden is not self-confident at all. He is very shy. He is in love with Jane but tries to conceal it even from himself.

So, the main character is an adolescent. He is quite an ordinary guy with rather ordinary problems. As a teenager he has to deal with an interpersonal conflict: his desire to be grown up versus simple inability to do that.

Within the entire story he seems to be quite depressed. I can’t say though that he is worrying about leaving school. His marks do not bother him at all. He is in such a mood because he can’t find that necessary something that would calm him down. Alcohol doesn’t help. So, he agrees then to spend a night with a prostitute. But he can’t overcome his timidity and feels even worse afterwards. He says he was even thinking of committing a suicide. And only afterwards he turns to his sister.

Holden’s main problem is that he is always alone. He does not have any friends. A lonely character. But that is typical of teenagers. They usually think that they understand and realize much more than all the others. That is why they consider themselves to be unacknowledged individuals.

I suppose Salinger has decided to make Holden the main character of the story because his purpose was to create a character that would reflect social problems of the time. That is why he chooses a teenager. Teenagers are always dissatisfied with their life and they have quite daring thoughts and ideas that may sound shocking.

The author describes the life without concealing or colouring the truth. And Holden is also very sincere with the readers. He does not only tell us a story, he expresses his life position as well. For example, he comes to Mr Spencer and is told to listen to the teacher read out his essay. He does not want to. But the teacher insists on doing that. And Holden writes, "He read it anyway, though. You can’t stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it”.

To conclude, Holden is the very character that represents the young generation, with its recalcitrant behaviour, rebellious thoughts, and absolute inability to cope with them himself. The process of growing up is not an easy one…

(by Asya)

It's time to dive...

"In order to understand this story you have to accept the vision of the main character, share his viewpoint and let him guide you. You have to dive into the very depth of his thoughts”- these words have caught my attention while I was looking for the book in the Inet. Among thousands "didn't understand it at all” and "why do people admire it?”, among millions "rotten morality” and "corrupted personality”, among billions "the best stuff ever” and "a must-read book”  they were almost unnoticeable though they reveal the only way to comprehend the message of "The Catcher...”.

The main character of the story is Holden Caulfield, who's about 16 years old. He was just kicked out from the Pencey Prep'aratory School. And that's where his story begins.

Actually, we know very little about his family – we only know that he's got an elder brother he calls D.B. and a small sister Phoebe he loves so much. Some years ago his younger brother Allie died and a great deal of Holden's thoughts are somehow connected with this loss. The only thing we know about his parents is that they'll be mad about his expulsion. It seems that he doesn't want to talk about them at all, being sure they aren't able to understand him and accept his vision of live. But has he really got any shaped vision? According to his words he's surrounded by phonies and bastards. He can find drawbacks in every person he meets – his roommate is too selfish, his teachers are too nerdy. It seems that the only people he cares about are his sister, his friend Jane whom he hasn't seen for ages and two nuns he met in a little sandwich bar.  

So, Holden leaves his school but he's not going to go straight home. He's just too worried about the fact that his parents will be too disappointed to find out he was expelled. He prefers to stay in the hotel, meet some of his old friends. The description of these events is mixed up with Holden's thoughts, he expresses his attitude towards the world he finds himself in and people he faces. He is not only the participant, but a certain judge, a very cynical one.

 Once I've come across the idea that if one spends a week in another country, he is able to write a book about it. If one lives there for a month, he's able to write an article. But if one lives there for a long period of time, he becomes absolutely unable to write anything, because the main problem he faces is finding a distant and objective point if view. So how can you describe the society you live in if you're unable to be objective? The only way out is to take the position of an observer, the one who doesn't regard himself as a member of this society, who is so-to-say opposed to it. That's why the main character of the book is a teenager – he's not a child anymore, but he still doesn't belong to the society of adults. That's why he can look at it and really SEE its inner self. He's bold enough to be rude and harsh as far as he speaks about the world he himself doesn't belong to. He's cynical and critical but that's the only way to reveal all the drawbacks of the modern life. It seems that he has just made his mind – to be stern speaking about life not to let it be stern to him.  

P.S. There's time for analysis and research. There's time for criticism and judgment. There's time for interpretation and comprehension. But now it's time to dive. Are you in?

(by Rina)

The Fallen Catcher in the Rye

We face the issue very often in real life. There are many people who are against the society they live in. But what is the reason for? Are they better or worse than others? No, the only difference between them and common people is that they aren’t taught how to live and behave in society. That doesn’t mean that they are ignoramuses. They just don’t know how to communicate well with others. Very often such people have very few friends. Life has too much inanity. And such people analyze it too much, so this drives them mad. The fact that these people have to be against the society makes them cynical.

Holden Caulfield can be called the best representative of the people mentioned above. He is a teenager expelled from the prep school. All his life Holden meets different people, goes through different life situations and is always against the society. He is a typical closed and self-centered person. He can be called unpractical to live in society. He perceives the life too serious that’s why many its displays seems disgusting for him. For example, on the one hand Holden wants to be as careless as his friends, but on the other hand he doesn’t like it. Besides this the teenager has no experience in building and maintaining relationships with girls. The situation in Holden’s life becomes more complex because of the death of his younger brother.

Holden wants to be a part of society, but he can’t. There is no person in his life who could help him overcome his inner sufferings. Holden meets a person who sings a song about a person who catches little children in the rye preventing them from falling down into the abyss. This becomes the idée fixe for Holden. From that moment he wants to be the catcher in the rye. But who are these very children running in the rye? And what is the abyss?

The children running in the rye are the same people as Holden himself. They are not taught to live in society. Their run in the rye is like wandering in life. And the abyss means life with all the difficulties a person can face while he/she is growing up. Holden is a child himself. And he needs a catcher in his life. He doesn’t want other people have such inner sufferings as he experience. He wants to explain them everything in time.

Unfortunately, there is no catcher in Holden’s life. That’s why he is already fallen into the abyss of life. This makes him an experienced person. And he tries to be catcher now. A fallen catcher in the rye.

(by Seagull)

Just a Teenager

The main character of the book - Holden- belongs to a noble family who lives in New York. His father is a lawyer, his younger sister is a very clever girl for her age, his brother is a famous writer so the impression we get after having learnt all these facts about Holden’s family makes us think that Holden should be a clever, well-behaved boy who will graduate from the university and will have a great job. But instead of it we meet a boy who IS really clever but can’t make friends and even talk in a normal way with his roommates. He always feels irritated, he believes he is surrounded just by phonies who can only pretend, lead phony talks and live just for themselves.

At the very beginning we have an impression that Holden has a strong personality, that he is the hero of his time. But later we notice that though his thoughts seem to be correct, he always loses, no matter what is it: a college, a fight or just a simple talk.

What we really see is that Holden simply built a high psychological cynical wall around himself that does not allow his to perceive the world and people as they are. He insists that he is the only one who is right and I can partially agree with him. What I can’t understand is why he does not want to believe at least for a minute that he can’t build his life alone and that he has to communicate and accept other people’s thoughts and points of view.

Holden is just a teenager but all ideas and thoughts he has in his mind are typical of a very mature person. He makes his conclusions experiencing different life situations. What I really like in this guy is that he does not want to obey every rule. He does not want to pretend he likes something when he really dislikes it. Unfortunately the life truth is cruel. And Holden faces only bad situations. On the other hand, are they really so bad? Life is never simple. It presupposes love, trust and communication. But Holden intentionally avoids all these factors. What he really needs to learn is that his life will never be normal without his own will. Phoebe is the only person who influences him. She tells him what he does wrong. And at the end of the story it is her who prevents him from making the biggest mistake in his life – leaving the family. Maybe she is the one who realizes that without her help Holden will make many more mistakes than he has already made.

Probably the main part of the book is when Phoebe asks Holden what he really wants to do in his life. The only answer he gives her is that he wants to rescue little children from falling down from high cliffs into a rye field.

So this rye field symbolizes our society where every human looks and behaves absolutely identical. We all represent a huge crowd that obeys the same rules. One generation copies the life-style of the previous one, only becoming crueler and more egoistic. And Holden realizes it still being a teenager. He believes that a small innocent child getting into the environment our society lives can only become a part of the crowd absorbing all the drawbacks and there is no other way.

And if he was able to do that he would definitely rescue every child who was going to fall into our society.

(by Luck)

Holden Caulfield – the character

that I understand very well

The book is dedicated to describing a certain type of character – a young person who’s unsatisfied with his surroundings and people around him. Some critics define this sort of character as the one who stands as a critic of society, taking a stance against phoniness, hypocrisy, obscenity, and passiveness.

The story begins with the main character’s narration about his life at Pency Prep – a closed school for boys from wealthy families. Holden Caulfield is going to be expelled from the school but he doesn’t regret it – he has been kicked out from schools and colleges not once. Holden feels he can’t spend even one more hour with the egocentric and obtuse mates: Ackley, who is always poking his nose into other people's affairs, and Stradlater, the one whom Holden really hates now – Stradlater is low-down with girls, as well as with Jane, Holden’s old friend. Actually Holden still likes her, that’s why he’s outraged with the thought Stradlater might have something with the girl. They get into a fight. With a bleeding nose, Holden leaves the dorm and takes a train to New York. He’s set his mind not going home right away – he intends to stay a few days at a hotel and have some fun. Later he understands there can no fun when people around you – the girls in the night club, the ex-girlfriend of his famous brother (who’s in Hollywood by the way), the waiter, the prostitute Sunny and the elevator guy Maurice – are all shallow, frivolous, foul and unscrupulous. He’s nearly on the edge of crying because dishonesty, rudeness, dullness and impudence drive him stark mad.

Holden’s behaviour is conditioned by the society in a broad sense. The guy is indeed very sensitive to what he is told and what he sees in reality. He feels straight away when a person represents nothing but behaves as if the whole world is spinning only around him. Holden calls almost all people around him ‘phony’, ‘crumby’, ‘corny’, ‘a slob’. With the help of these simple words he’s trying to express his overwhelming contempt and irritation. Holden understands – people want to seem, not to be.

This discrepancy between a person’s essence and a person’s behaviour makes Holden unhinged. Lies, avidity, narrow-mindedness, vulgarity, banality, pointlessness of efforts are the things Holden can’t put up with. Holden realizes society doesn’t need him – everyone is busy with their own affairs, everyone wants to take advantage of other people’s innocence. The boy feels rotten, cheated, deluded, disillusioned. At the same time Holden conforms to the way other people behave. He can’t stop telling lies, he behaves the same way – drinks, smokes, has dates with girls, that means he doesn’t reject society as it is but wants it to cease pretending life is fun.

The novel remains popular with young people just because it shows a person who doesn’t fit into the polarized society of phony careerists and idle fast livers. I feel sympathy for the character as I often share such an attitude to the world. At times the sense of my actions is slipping away from me because I feel I don’t like anything except for some things that are no longer with me.

(by MissJane)

The catcher in the Rye

The main character Holden was a seventeen year old boy who learned at American school Pensi. He had a big family, two brothers and a sister. His brother Alli  died when Holden was 13 years old. His elder brother was a very famous person, he published books and shoot films. The author gave us the description of Holden’s sister. She was very kind and nice. He lived in a room with Streidleiter and he quarrelled with him because of one girl. – Djein. She Was his good friend and he loved her. They met first time when they rested and they liked to play chess together. 

The main character was included form the school because he didn’t pass all the exams, he passed only one – English. He didn’t want to upset his parents that is why he decided to leave the school before his parents got a letter that he was included.  He packed his things and went to New York. On the way he met a mother of one of classmate and talked with her. When he came to New York he couldn’t decide very long whom he want to call, first of all he wanted to call his younger sister but it was too late and she was sleeping. Then he called to Fei Kavandish. Holden knew her from the party in Prinston, she was a cabaret dancer. So he invited her to talk and to drink cocktails but she disagreed. At that night he met also three not pretty women, whom he didn’t like and thought that they were dull. In the end of the chapters the author showed us the conversation between the main character and two catholic women. They were talking about Romeo  and Juliet. And the main character stayed very disappointed by this conversation.

In the second part of the story the main character wanted to buy a record for his sister. He bought it and decided to meet his sister in the park but she wasn’t there. Actually the whole second part of the story was connected with his little sister Phibi. So, the main character met a little girl that was a friend of his little sister and she said that Phibi and the whole class went to the museum. Firstly Holden decided to go there but then he understood that it was a weekend and Phibi didn’t study. But in spite of it he went to the Museum of Natural history. Then we see the conflict between the main character and Sally, his friend. They saw a play with a popular actor and during the break they went in the smoking room. There were too many people who were rich and selfish, as the main character thought. He didn’t like that society and he was depressed and angry. More than that Sally met her friend there and they talked that made Holden furious. So he quarrelled with her. Tan the main character went to Radio-city and say a film that was absolutely disgusting and the made him irritated.

Well, the whole second part is full of different actions and the main character travels a lot, meets different people, mostly his friends. But the main thing in this part is his conversation with his sister Phibi. Holden decided to meet her at night. His parents were absent and nothing could disturb him.  During this conversation Phibi asked him: Whom do you want to be in this life? What kind of job do you want to have? And Holden said: I want to be those person who catches children in the rye. Another conversation that is also important is his conversation with Mr. Antolini. He taught Holden English in his previous school. He said him that Holden falling into abyss. He wasted time, he searched for something that the society around him couldn’t give him.

To conclude i must say, that the main character is a mysterious person for me and i cant understand him at all. The author shows us a young boy who is very vulnerable and sensitive. He always searches for the truth in this life, for an ideal person. While reading this text, i made a decision that Holden doesn’t like the whole world in spite of his family and his friend Jane. People, whom he adores, like his teachers Mr. Antolini and Mr. Spencer make him irritated. To my mind the author wanted to show his main character that the society is not an ideal. He lives in the world of lie,  selfishness and people there are snobs and sceptics.

(by Megastarosta)

Searching for the place in life

I can’t say that Holden Caulfield is a character that I don’t understand very well. His feelings are very clear and sincere and it adds to the character a special attractiveness. Salinger shows the events through the eyes of Holden and does not give him any assessment. It is the reader who observes the developing of the plot, analyses main actions and draws conclusions.

There are many conflicts in the book. I want to single out some of them. First of all through the eyes of Holden the author shows the conflict between love and sex. Holden wants to feel the deepest love. At the same time his age makes him think that sex should be joined with love. But in reality sex comes too easy with money. So he is confused. This misunderstanding of reality makes him lonely. But the lonelier he becomes the more he lives in his fantasies.

And he develops his estrangement. The ways of expressing alienation is another theme of the story. Holden often says "people like”, "people want” and thereby he tries to separate himself from other "people”. I think the author wants to show a kind of meanness of a person’s wants and wishes through the eyes of this pure boy.

Holden’s loneliness is one of the main themes in the book He accused people of their strange behavior but in fact it was he who destroyed everything. He wants to have friends, he is dependent on other people, he even searches for them, but his date with both Sally and Luce did no good because of his rude behavior. I think that the Author shows Holden that he is the reason for all his troubles. May be the opinion of the author is expressed by Phoebe’s words, that he loves no one. She accused him of hating everything.

Holden doesn’t understand the world around; moreover he even doesn’t try to. I suppose that he is just a small silly boy that thinks that he is an adult. It is easy to live an adult life when you have parent’s money. But he doesn’t understand the notion of responsibility that he can’t exist in the society if he doesn’t accept its rules and laws. That’s why he wants to work in the rye. Holden misheard the words of the song. He thought the line was "If a body catch a body” and Holden imagined a field full of children and he wanted to protect them. He wanted to do something kind and pure. But the actual lyrics was "If a body meet a body” that means if one person has sex with another. Holden wanted to catch children before they fall out of innocence into knowledge of the adult world, including knowledge of sex. Holden is just a child, who doesn’t know who he is.

 (by Ayayulia)

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