The Catcher in the Rye: Life's Many Obstacles

Topics: Adolescence, Tragic hero, Tragedy Pages: 3 (877 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Life's Many Obstacles

In J. D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" the protagonist, Holden, is faced with many obstacles. Like most tragic heroes, he is a man who is reasonably happy at the beginning of the tragedy, but as the tragedy develops, some failure in his personality begins to affect events, so that his progress is a movement from happiness to misery. The ultimate misery results from his final awareness of his personalities limits or failures. Much of Holden's misery is a result of his inability to successfully handle particular problems regarding adolescence. Holden's loneliness and overall low self-esteem are the primary adolescent motivaters for his breakdown. Holden's general need for female companionship leads him to a reasonably accurate self-analysis: he thinks that he is the "biggest sex maniac you ever saw," but later admits that he really doesn't understand sex or know much about it. Holden, however, finds himself feeling rather "horny" and decides to call upon the service of Faith Cavendish. She "wasn't exactly a whore or anything but she didn't mind doing it once in a while..." Holden feels this experience will thrust him into what he considers the adult world. The conversation with Faith was a long one but inevitably led to nothing. An incursion into the adult world, or what Holden considers it to be, had been thwarted. In part, the failure happens because he doesn't really know the rules, and also because loneliness is not a substitute for experience. Habitual lying is a trait not only found in adolescence but also in people of all ages. It is sometimes generated from a lack of self-esteem, boredom and self-preservation. Holden exaggerates many truths not out of a conscious decision to deceive, but rather to lend emphasis to facts he is unsure of as when he states, "Pencey Prep advertises in about a thousand magazines." However, Holden also has no convictions against telling outright untruths if he can come out for...
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