Catcher in the Rye

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The Catcher in the Rye
As the protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield appears to attribute his social condition to circumstances beyond his control. Critics give praise to the character of Holden Caulfield as a non-conformist rebel that is unwilling to compromise in the face of the harsh realities of society. However, this view does not seem to hold true to the circumstances taking place. Holden's detachment from his life is almost voyeuristic in nature, and he is unwilling to take responsibility for his actions, or lack there of, on any meaningful level. Holden Caulfield is a disaffected youth whose cowardice, sexual impotency, and inability to reconcile the perceived perversions of society with his own childish, idealistic morals lead to his eventual mental break-down. Little sympathy can be had for Holden when the only active participation his takes in his own life is his own self-destruction.

Holden is introduced by the author as a coward early on in the narrative, and this flaw is one of the few points of stability in his personality. According to the critic Carl Strauch, Holden's own assertion that he is a coward is incorrect, and if the label of cowardice is to be applied anywhere it can only be applied to society (Strauch 21). This view, however, is in direct contradiction with the actual events taking place. Holden is often confrontational, allowing himself ample opportunities to seize the moment and take charge of his own destiny, but at every such instance he defers control and allows the object of antagonism, whether it is a person or situation, to define him instead of him defining the situation. Holden detests his boarding school, but does not attempt to seek to remedy his plight. He unwilling to apply himself in order to graduate, thus freeing himself from the school, nor is he willing to drop out the school by his own accord. Instead, Holden chooses to leave Pencey Prep early only after flunking out of the...
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