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Catcher in the Rye Essay on Holden's Inconsistencies

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Catcher in the rye essay

‘It is his inconsistencies that make Holden compelling as a character.’ I completely agree with this statement, as Holden’s significant inconsistencies are what make him an insightful, genuine and compelling character.

A world without inconsistencies would be very boring. As humans we are all drawn to the odd/ interesting things in life to some extent. This is why Holden is so compelling as a character; it is because he is different from the conformists of the world he lives in. As we can see in chapter 2 when Mr. Spencer says ‘life is a game boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.’ We may think at first Holden thinks life is a game, however he believes the opposite, he is deathly serious about life, but he doesn’t accept the rules set before him by ‘phony’ adults. Another way that Holden is inconsistent with the world around him that makes him a compelling character is that he demands authenticity. For example in Ernie’s piano bar he believes Ernie is a ‘phony as he makes his music fake with trills and fancy technical display to impress the crowed (‘terrific snob’) As Holden demands authenticity he also doesn’t want art to be an occasion for egotistic exhibition. He thinks to himself, ‘I was surrounded by jerks.’

Another inconsistency that makes him a compelling character is his hypercritical tendency to lie, however be always true to the reader: ‘im always sayin glad to’ve met you to some one I’m not at all glad to meet, if you want to stay alive you have to say that stuff though.’ This quote also underscores his entire philosophy of life. He attempts not to keep himself alive but, but to keep the innocence of those around him. He also wants them to think he is really glad to meet them in order to preserve their innocence. Another example of many, is in the train talking to Morrows mother, he tells us, ‘her some was doughtless the biggest basted that ever went to Pency, in the whole crumby history of the school.’ He tells her, ‘he adapts himself very well to things,’ and ‘he’s a very sensitive boy.’ He concludes I’m the most terrific liar.’ This quote sums up his hypercritical nature as he thinks liars are phonies. I feel that the inconsistency that makes him most compelling and empathisable is his attachment to Allie. The main cause of Holden’s depression and inconsistencies was Allie’s death. Through out the novel he talks about Allie very admiringly: ‘my brother Allie, the one that died was a wizard.’ And,’ 50 times more intelligent,’ and,’ people with red hair are supposed to get mad very easily, but Allie never did.’ Due to all this upraised talk about Allie in the past, it forces us to sympathize with him, which forges a relationship between Holden and the reader thus making him more compelling.

Also, Holden’s subconscious battle between innocence and adulthood make him very interesting to the reader. Holden believes himself to be the protector of innocence. ‘ The catcher in the rye.’ Which incorrectly derives its meaning from Robert burns’ song ‘comin thro the rye.’ Which correctly interpreted is song about adultery and sex. Holden misinterprets the song as catching kid innocently running through a rye field about to fall off a cliff into adulthood. Holden is on the edge of this cliff, drawn to the adult world by sex but pulled back by Allie, as Holden connects him with innocence, and to lose his innocence would mean to forget Allie. We can see in chapter 13, this battle between adulthood and innocence that make him such an interesting character. In this chapter Holden is very keen to meet the prostitute: ‘put some water on my hair,’ he’ ‘tested to see if [his] breath stank.’ He also, ‘brushed [his] teeth… then [he] put on another clean shirt.’ He said, ‘ I was started to feel pretty sex and all.’ It is obvious here that Holden is ready to lose his virginity and plunge into adulthood with no second thoughts. However his mind set changes when he realizes she is ‘young as hell.’ His persona of the protector of innocence kicks in, ‘sexy was the last think I was feeling, I felt much more depressed than sexy.’ Here his innocence overcomes adulthood and pulls him away from the cliff.

Therefore it is Holden’s inconsistencies that make him such an interesting and compelling character to the reader.

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