The Catcher in the Rye, Guilt

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The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye is one of J. D. Salinger's world-famous books about the disgruntled youth. Holden Caulfield is the main character and he is a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Navigating his way through the challenges of growing up, Holden separates the “phony” aspects of society, and the “phonies” themselves. Some of these “phony” people in his life are the headmaster whose friendliness depends on the wealth of the parents, and his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection. This book deals with the complex issues of identity, belonging, connection, and alienation. Holden senses these feelings most of the time and is guilty about many things in his life, such as the death of his sister, Allie, and also hiring a prostitute. Holden then acts on these feelings of guiltiness and uses it as a motivator to make certain decisions in different situations. Holden deals with the traumatic event of Allie dying by breaking all the windows in his garage "just for the hell of it." When Holden finally woke up from his rampage from earlier before, Mr. Antolini was there to meet him touching his head. Instead of Holden greeting Mr. Antolini, he runs out of the house even though he trusts Mr. Antolini as a mentor and looks up to him for guidance. Some examples of Holden still feeling guilty about Allie’s death would be the time when he recalls the time he excluded Allie from a BB gun game. This feeling of guilt, as well as well of the feeling of depression may help explain why Holden is sensitive at times. At Holden’s core, he is a deep, sensitive soul, at bottom unable to transfer his feelings into numbness which makes him feel guilty, lonely, and self-conscious most of the time. When Holden starts to talk about Allie, he says that he died of Leukemia a few years before and was someone who was always nice to everyone. Holden believes that Allie was amazing in every aspect of life,...
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