Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfield can be analyzed through his thoughts, actions and circumstances which surround his everyday life. Holden acts like a careless teenager. Holden has been to several prep-schools, all of which he got kicked out of for failing classes. After being kicked out of the latest, Pency Prep, he went off to New York on his own. Holden seems to have a motivation problem which apparently affects his reasoning. The basis of his reasoning comes from his thoughts. Holden thinks the world is full of a bunch of phonies. All his toughs about people he meets are negative. The only good thoughts he has are about his sister Phoebe and his dead brother Alley. Holden, perhaps, wishes that everyone, including himself, should be like his brother and sister. That is to be intelligent, real and loving. Holdens problem is with his heart. It was broken when his brother died. Now Holden goes around the world as his fake self, wearing his mask. Holden is looking for love, peace and understanding. He is scared to love because he is afraid he might lose it like he did with his brother. That is the reason for Holden’s love of the museum, he feels safe because it never changes it always stays the same. Holden is troubled with the pain of death, it effects every aspect of his life causing him to not care about the future, himself or anyone, except Phoebe and Alley.

The theme of alienation is demonstrated by Holden. He alienates himself from the world because he fears change and false people, he wants love and security. Holden alienates himself from all the changes that occur around him. Holden isolated himself when he didn’t go down to the seats for the final football game at Pency. He isolates himself because he gets kicked out of all the schools he goes to. All those changes scare Holden off, he becomes afraid to feel secure. Holden also alienates himself because he trusts no one, he thinks everybody is phony. When Holden was in a bar and he lied and said he had to go, just to not talk to his brothers old girl friend; Holden thought she was annoying and left the bar even though he didn’t feel like it. Holden is also alienated by his inability to love. Holden seems not to care about his old girlfriend Sally, he told her he loved her but he didnt mean it. He told her she was a pain in the butt; he had complete disregard for Sally feelings, he just walked away to do something else. Holdens fears and insecurities can be traced back to the death of his brother Alley. All of his repressed feelings about his brother exert an influence upon Holdens actions. He cant trust or love anything or anyone because he is afraid that they will die and leave him tormented and vulnerable.

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Salinger is trying to show the reader the confusion anger and frustration of loosing a loved one, and how it can effect a persons life. Salinger is saying that a person needs reciprocal love to be happy and healthy. Holden is miserable because he lost his brother whom he loved very much. When Alley died Holden smashed up the windows in the garage so bad that even years later he still cant make a good fist. Maybe Holdens ability to love was taken away along with his brother. Without Holden having a healthy relationship with love going back and forth he becomes an emotionless heap of flesh with no direction or motivation. The author is illustrating his version of hell. Hell to the author is being surrounded by phonies and not being able to care. This tragedy is Holdens life; a life of lies and deception, a life of cold, dark thoughts, a life in hell.

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