ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Analysis of "Catcher in the Rye" - Holden Caulfield

Updated on December 26, 2015
Catcher in the Rye
Catcher in the Rye

Introduction

While it can never be said that Holden Caulfield is the stereotypical social conformist, he does adhere to the asinine expectations of the general public, questioning them all the while. This tension molds Holden’s life as he periodically succumbs to each side in the classic conflict between his outward and inward self. J.D. Salinger uses Holden as the protagonist of his 1951 classic novel, "Catcher in the Rye." The book follows Holden through a variety of different scenarios with Holden reacting as a typical adolescent male the entire time. At times unpredictable and irrational, Holden Caulfield allows us to see the struggles and imperfections that exist within each of us. He bemoans the "phonieness" of the world around him and is frustrated and annoyed by those that he percieves to be hypocrites and yet he plays the same games as everyone else and displays an equally phone and hypocritical facade.

Education examples

In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield wants to do well in school. He understands that he should make good grades, learn new material and be successful. Unfortunately, he only desires those things because people like Mr. Spencer shove it down his throat. Holden questions the value of these things inwardly, and his lack of intrinsic motivation is manifest in his miserable English essay and his eventually removal from the school. The smallest annoyances in Elkton Hills (a previous school) were enough to make Holden say “it makes me so depressed, I go crazy.” If Holden really listened to his inner self, he would have left the school and traveled west and lived out his fantasy pretending to be a deaf-mute and filling cars. However, he understood that this was socially unacceptable.

Holden Caulfield
Holden Caulfield

Situation with the prostitute

Later in the novel, a man tries to hook Holden up with a prostitute. Holden specifically thinks, “it was against my principles and all, but I was so depressed I didn’t even think.” Society expects a teenage male alone in New York City to never turn down “a little tail”. The whole time that she is in the room, however, Holden is making remarks about how silly the situation is and why he had ever let the man talk him into it. He would much rather just talk to the woman.

Reluctance to conform in "Catcher in the Rye"

Even when he knows it is ridiculous to conform, Holden does it anyway. At one point in the story, he is sipping his Scotch and soda and listening to Ernie jam on the piano. Sally, a friend of Holden’s older brother, walks over and she talks for a while with Holden. Sally is accompanied by a Navy officer with about the same charm as pistachio shells. When they part ways, Holden goes through a classic outward/inward struggle. “The Navy guy and I told each other we were glad to’ve met each other. Which always kills me. I’m always saying ‘Glad to’ve met you’ to somebody I’m not at all glad I met.” Perhaps the key to this clash is revealed in the next sentence: “If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”

Conclusion

An analysis of "Catcher in the Rye" shows that Holden Caulfield is a powerful embodiment of the battle that each one of us goes through. We all possess an innate desire to adhere to social standards and to be accepted by those around us. However, we also have radical tendencies, and occasionally wish to go against the grain (especially teenage males). Mastering that discord is pivotal to having joy in everyday instances. When Holden Caulfield begins to understand this, he remarks, “I was damn near bawling. I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth.” This is a fantastic book that is extremely relatable to so many people. Almost all of us are bothered by the double standards we see in society around us. We experience the hypocrisy and the "phoniness," yet we play into that same cycle. The desire and struggle to be "real" and "unique" is universal. There's a reason why it's an enduring American classic and there is a reason why so many American teenagers are assigned to read this book.

How do you feel about Holden Caulfield?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)