BOOKS/FILMS/AUTHORS--USEM4a--1998

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Since the death of his younger brother Allie--with whom Holden was extremely close--Holden has had trouble opening himself up to people who wish to be his "catcher in the rye." . . . The only person that Holden truly confides in is his younger sister, Phoebe, with whom he shares a common bond, as he had with Allie; a parallel can be seen at the end of the story as Holden stands in the rain crying as Phoebe rides the ferris wheel, much as Holden remained in the rain at Allie's grave even after others in the cemetery had taken cover from the elements.

I think the reason I don't like Holden very much is because of the way he talks. I never really knew when to take him seriously and when to not take him seriously. When he talks he doesn't sound sincere because he always contradicts himself. But when I stopped to think about it every kid at that age doesn't know what he or she wants and just wants to be part of the crowd. In Holden's case, he just drove himself crazy agonizing over it!

Holden Caulfield . . . is one of the most misanthropic characters in American literature.

The question I have about the novel is this: Is it normal to feel the way Holden does about society and his environment? (I define normal as emotionally healthy.) Also, I add a corollary: does Holden need to be in a mental institution?

Holden . . . is afraid of growing up, of moving on, and of forgetting his brother Allie. It's because of this that he wants to be the "catcher in the rye." He wants to be able to save other children from the fate of coming of age, and help keep them young and free as long as possible.

If Holden could have just let someone in, a friend or teacher, then his life might have not been so difficult. . . . Throughout the novel I was left with a feeling that I wanted to help Holden. I wanted to give him a hug when he was crying or I wanted to be the one that he could call late at night when he felt like talking with someone. After reading the book I began to wonder if there were other people in the world as troubled as Holden?

Holden Caulfield loves children. He is a sixteen year old teenage boy who does not want to grow up.

Take all the extreme things away from Holden and what you have is a regular confused teenager.

I can relate to Holden as if he were my brother. Sometimes I even find myself wondering if the novel was written about my experiences in my adolescence. Then I realize this: my parents wouldn't even let me ride my bike around the block by myself until I was ten.

Holden Caulfield . . . spends much of the story complaining about all of the phony people he is forced to deal with on a daily basis. Holden, however, could easily be seen as the phoniest character in the book. This irony made me think a lot about what it really means to be "real." We could all learn from this quote from The Velveteen Rabbit:
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day . . . "Does it happen all at once, or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time . . . . once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Now was an appropriate time in my life to read this book again, not only because I'm older and can appreciate it more, but also because in the first few weeks of college, being real is an important issue. Everyone is trying to survive in a big new place, like Holden, and it's harder to be one's true self in situations like that. Reading this book has inspired me to be as real as I can be.

When I was in middle school and in my first years of high school, . . . I would rarely, if ever, do my homework at home. My theory was that if I could not finish the work within school hours, then it did not need to be done. Gradually throughout high school, once it became more difficult to attain good grades, I began to change this philosophy. . . . In fact, I learned that the students that got the best grades in high school were not necessarily the smartest, but the hardest working. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield never accepts this idea, and in Good Will Hunting, Will does not realize this until the very end.

Antoine is a young kid who has had nothing but terrible experiences with schooling and, more specifically, authority figures who have punished him for being a child with an imagination. Will Hunting is a young man whose experiences with people and authority figures have done nothing but turn him away. Holden Caulfield thinks he is a young man, but is more of a boy than any of the other characters. He turns everything people do or say into something against himself. All three characters, either by choice or force, have been alienated by society, and only one was brought back.