Hon. English 10, Period 8
October 28, 2014
Misery Loves Company: the Analysis of Holden Caulfield
Human beings crave acceptance; if one feels as if they do not have the acceptance of others, they begin to doubt if they should accept themselves and they lash out as a coping mechanism. This, in fact, is one of the most triumphed theories regarding why people bully others or try to make others feel inferior; in short, people try to make others feel inferior when they feel inferior themselves. This interesting observation is presented through the main character Holden Caulfield by J.D. Salinger in his novel The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger illustrates the motif insecurity through Holden’s constant name-calling of others and himself. Holden’s pessimistic descriptions of himself translate into his negative attitude towards others and towards life.
In various parts of the story, Holden blatantly addresses his insecurities. Holden constantly thinks of himself in a negative light, which plays a role in why he flunked out of Pencey and why he is in such a depressed state. When explaining to one of his previous professors why he flunked out of school, he says that it “hasn’t really hit him yet” that he has flunked out of school; Holden blatantly states “I’m a moron” (Salinger, 14). On a different occasion, Holden describes himself as “the only dumb one in (his) family” after describing his other two siblings as “a wizard” and “a genius” (Salinger, 67). Both these previous statements obviously show that Holden does not hold himself in high regard. His self-inflicted name-calling and berating implies he feels alienated from his family and peers, thus enforcing his insecurities about himself. Holden later speaks again about how he feels estranged from his peers, in a lengthy rant in which he criticizes the boys at his school in a foul-mouthed and name-calling fury while on his date with Sally Hayes. He rants, “(A boys school) is full of...
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