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Understanding Holden Caulfield - Research Papers

Understanding Holden Caulfield


in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger 1953), is a novel told in an autobiographical manner which tracks Holden Caulfield on his two day sojourn through 1950’s New York City. This short twentieth century novel delves into the underlying problems that mire Caulfield to the point where it seems he will never enter the adult world. Holden's misguided morality brings about a dysfunctional personality that begs to be psychoanalyzed, not only in his interactions with the outside world, but also his internal motivation and language. However, his inability to relate to the rest of the world in any manner will leave the boy forever ...

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Holden who can be willful, contrary, often impossible, yet in a manner insistently of his own making and at odds with whatever he deems dull or conformist” (Lee 102). “Ambivalence is, in fact, characteristic of Holden, the surest evidence of his mental instability" (Furst 76). He is not what he and many readers assume he is: "an anti-establish figure whose
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disgust is directed at other people” (Edwards 557). “Holden does not turn his face into the sunrise … expressing his determination to overthrow the bourgeois capitalistic society in favor of socialist utopia. Indeed, the whole thrust of the novel seems to suggest there is no social or political or economic structure that could … relieve Holden … of the tragic implications of his physical, sexual, or emotional nature” (Miller 134). Nay, Holden is more than this. He expresses this through his true self (Lee 103) which allows him to “editorialize gloriously, fire off opinions" (Costello 96), and even, as it appears, ...

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the novel], he no longer has any real need of therapy. He would appear to be as healthy, as whole, as sane as
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anyone might ever be” (Mellard 225). Thus it appears that the novel is trying to describe certain passing phases of adolescent behavior (Baumbach 467).

But, whether Caulfield is cured at the end of the novel or not, it is obvious that he struggles with sexual problems throughout. “Holden’s problem … is reflected in his inability to relate sexually to females. But he … fools himself. He believes he cannot ‘get really sexy’ with girls he doesn’t like a lot, whereas … he cannot get sexy with a girl he does like" (Edwards 563). In fact, “what he likes ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 8/19/2004 07:15:38 PM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Free Paper
Words: 1720
Pages: 7

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