Passage Analysis The Catcher in the Rye
“On my right, the conversation was even worse, though. On my right there was this very Joe Yale-looking guy, in a gray flannel suit and one of those flitty-looking Tattersal vests. All those Ivy League bastards look alike. My father wants me to go to Yale, or maybe Princeton, but I swear I wouldn’t go to one of those Ivy League colleges if I was dying, for God’s sake. Anyway, this Joe Yale-looking guy had a terrific-looking girl with him. Boy, she was good-looking. But you should’ve heard the conversation they were having. In the first place, they were both slightly crooked. What he was doing, he was giving her a feel under the table, and at the same time telling her all about some guy in his dorm that had eaten a whole bottle of aspirin and nearly committed suicide. His date kept saying to him, “How horrible... Don’t, darling. Please, don’t. Not here.” Imagine giving somebody a feel and telling them about a guy committing suicide at the same time! They killed me.” pg. 112
This passage of the Catcher in the Rye connects very clearly with the theme of sexuality and also serves to characterize Holden.
The first part of the passage is more of characterization. Holden says that “[his] father wants [him] to go to Yale, or maybe Princeton, but [he] swear[s] [he] wouldn’t go to one of those Ivy League colleges if [he] was dying.” Here, besides the characterization of Holden, it is easy to identify that his father is also characterized. He misunderstands Holden wishes, or perhaps disregards them entirely. The father wants Holden to become exactly what Holden hates, which is an “Ivy League bastard” that will be just like all of the other upper class young men that Holden criticizes as phony or crumby, like Stradlater. In this case, Holden wouldn’t go “if [he] was dying,” which is a slight hint that he wouldn’t go to the school even if it could save him. He means that he doesn’t believe those...
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