The Catcher In The Rye
Holden’s Attitude To Loss And Goodbyes
The theme of loss and goodbyes recurs throughout The Catcher in the Rye and each occurrence reinforces Holden’s negative attitude towards change. The most vivid quote to gain insight into Holden’s view on change and subsequently loss (Byrne, Kalua and Scheepers 2012: 64) is in chapter 16 when Holden reflects back on his childhood and his regular school visits to the Natural History Museum, Holden finds a great comfort in the static and unchanging displays in the museum and in the continuity he finds in there, “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move.” (SparkNote…2007).
The first example of a departure we encounter in The Catcher in the Rye is in the form of Holden’s goodbye to Pencey Prep in the first chapter. Holden is on the top of Thomson Hill overlooking the whole school and calling to mind all the things he doesn’t like about the school to make the pain of being asked to leave that much easier. Holden recounts that his coat was taken with his gloves in the pocket and his reaction to this was “Pencey was full of crooks. Quite a few guys came from these very wealthy families, but it was full of crooks anyway” (Salinger 1994:3). It seems that if he rejects Pencey it will take the sting out of failing and being expelled, Holden makes light of the situation “So I got the ax. They give guys the ax quite frequently at Pencey.” (Salinger 1994:3)
The second example of loss is the death of Holden’s brother Allie and his uncontrolled response to his brother’s untimely end. Throughout the novel Holden never mentions his feelings or emotions openly but he alludes to them through his behaviour and the stream of conscious narration that Salinger uses (Byrne et al 2012:53). In chapter 5 Holden recalls the night that Allie died, “I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of...
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