The Connections between Holden Caulfield's Problems in The Catcher in the Rye Essay

Sara Prusik Mrs. Quick English 11 6 November 2009 Ties to Holden’s Problems “I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would’ve, too, if I’d been sure somebody’d cover me up as soon as I landed. I didn’t want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory” (104). Holden is a complex character with mixed emotions about everything; many times contradicting his own thoughts and beliefs. Holden’s struggles are due to the lack of parental attention, the death of his younger brother, and his unusual relationships with other characters in the novel, “The Catcher in the Rye. “My parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them” (1). Struggles in Holden’s life reflect toward the lack of parental presence in his life; in the novel the parental absence takes Holden to an almost neurotic circumstance of caring. Holden proceeds to be concerned about all matters of his life, and in an unhealthy approach. During the novel Holden develops a social awkwardness as he attempts to connect with others.

If Holden were to have a healthier relationship with his parents he could have a better since of a positive outlook, less fear about becoming an adult and the responsibilities that follow. Holden’s problems are further compounded because of the loss of his beloved brother Allie, due to leukemia. The death of his younger brother is such a loss to Holden; he stops caring about himself and looses desire to move forward in his own life. As Holden becomes overwhelmed with thoughts of Allie; he feels the need to take responsibility for saving children like in Robert Burns’ poem.

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Holden feels accountable for Allie’s death, and wants to save children from pain and suffering like how he wanted for his brother. Mr. Stradlater assigns a simple paper describing the basics of a room or a house, but all Holden could think to write about is his fond memories of Allie’s poetic baseball glove. Holden writes in detail about how much he loves and admires his deceased brother. Later, as noted in chapter 22 Holden’s discussion with his sister leads them into an argument about Holden’s loss of interest and faith in just about everything.

Holden cannot deny this to his sister. Phoebe goes on to suggest that Holden needs to realize that their brother is dead and there is no going back. Holden has problems admitting his true feelings and cannot get over the loss of his brother. This is the true essences of the book. Holden’s unusual relationships throughout the story cause him yet even further problems. Holden decides to hire a prostitute. This becomes a problem for Holden because he is never able to connect with her in anyway. He spends the evening talking to her about all of his problems.

He pays her the money but she demands more, this ultimately ends up with Holden getting hurt by her pimp. Another troublesome situation occurs when Holden becomes friends with a stranger on the train; the stranger turns out to be the mother of a classmate whom he despises. The boy’s name is Earnest and he has a reputation at Pency Prep of being unpopular which his mother is already assumed. Holden then goes on to lie and convince the mother that her son is the most popular student in school.

To Earnest’s mother Holden introduces himself as Rudolph, giving her the name of the janitor at school, and lies further about his reasoning for leaving Pency Prep early stating he has a tumor. This situation is detrimental for Holden because he continues to live his life full of lies. He never owns up to reality and any of his responsibilities. Situations like these pulls Holden further away from accountability and maturity and closer to his depressing fantasy world in which he lives.

Holden’s inability to maintain healthy relationships is devastating to his already weak character. “The Cather in the Rye” is a story packed full of problems that are created by protagonist Holden. His troubles begin in his childhood with a poor sense of self. He becomes an eternally unstable and immature boy who is crying out for attention due to lack of parental attention. Holden’s dilemmas are also compounded by the unexpected illness and death of his very close brother.

This is devastating to Holden which leads him to spin out of control taking him down a path of self destruction and loneliness. The trauma and neglect in Holden’s life beginning as a young child creates the inability to develop normal social stills leading to an unordinary social life. Due to his lack of parental attention, the death of his brother, and his unusual relationships with others; Holden is led into a state of insanity because of failure to admit his short comings.


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