Catcher in the Rye Essay

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Bernice Ramos
Mrs. Corradi
ENG4UE
Friday April 12, 2013

The Hidden Faces of Holden Caulfield

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger does an exemplary job in showcasing humanity’s crime through Holden Caulfield. Humanity is guilty of masking their inner selves, displaying an entirely different person for the world to see. People often commit this crime subconsciously as a form of protection. Holden is said to be hypocritical because he consistently acknowledges the phoniness of his surrounding society without looking in the mirror. He is no better than the ones he has accused because he, too, is guilty. He excessively smokes, drinks and takes a great interest in sex, deluding himself into thinking that these are acts that would make him an adult, but truthfully, becoming an adult is his greatest fear. Holden’s insolence is a facade that masks his true self, a person who is sensitive, compassionate and moral. One fragment of Holden’s alter image is a person who is indifferent about everything he sees, but Holden’s inner sensitivity shines through his moments of vulnerability. Holden despises the schools that he has attended, including Pencey Prep. These schools had said that they shape young boys into “clear thinking men”. He opposes this statement because he believes that schools like Pencey Prep are actually filled with “crooks” and people he felt that he could never connect with like Ackley and Stradlater. However, it is ironic that no matter how much he loathes this school, it is one of the few places where he can find people who he can talk to. When he decides to leave early to go to New York City, he is crying right before he leaves, “When I was all set to go, when I had my bags and all, I stood for a while next to the stairs and took a last look down the goddamn corridor. I was sort of crying. I don’t know why” (Salinger 52). This sign of vulnerability is a fine indication of how much companionship Holden requires. Before he embarks on his lonely journey throughout New York City, he acknowledges his fellow classmates in a humorous, but emotional way. He will miss his friends like Stradlatter and Ackley, despite the faults he finds in them. Holden has a shell like a turtle and nothing fazes him at all whether it may be his unsuccessful future or Maurice. He holds himself up well when he faces unpleasant situations. The loss of innocence is the one rock that can shatter his hard shell. Holden cannot stomach the thought of his sister, Phoebe, breaking the thread that holds her to her innocence like Jane Gallagher did when she was with Stradlater. Holden’s relationship with Phoebe means much more to him than one would imagine of a normal brother and sister relationship. The death of his brother Allie is a proven fact of how much he treasures his connection with Phoebe. It is much more intensified if what he loses her to is the rape of her innocence. The “Shirley Beans” record that he buys for her ends up breaking on his way to Central Park, signifying and even foreshadowing how his tie to her will soon break, “Then something terrible happened just as I got in the park. I dropped old Phoebe’s record. It was in a big envelope and all, but it broke anyway. I damn near cried...” (154). Holden believes that becoming an adult equates to dying because of Allie. Holden cannot help but associate the two together due to the fact that Allie, who was young and innocent, suffered death. Holden realizes that once Phoebe matures, her innocence will slowly decay and the delicate string that holds these two together will be cut by fate. It can also be noted that Holden displays himself as a person who can manage entirely on his own. His form of escape is isolating himself in a cabin far away from society’s hypocrisy. However, his trip to New York City contradicts his need for isolation. When in New York City, Holden is constantly finding someone to keep him company. No matter how much he criticizes society, he must...
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