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A Rebel on His Way to Adulthood : 'Me, myself and I' vs 'The Catcher in the Rye '

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Petia Ivanova Tzvetkova, Eph, 4th year, 41263 A Rebel on His Way to Adulthood 'Me, myself and I' vs 'The Catcher in the Rye' Ever since I read 'The Catcher in the Rye' - I was 17 then - I have tried to explain myself why this book is so significant. Why is it so hated and adored at the same time? I must confess I hadn't heard anything about Salinger till I watched 'Conspiracy Theory'. If you don't remember I'll tell you that the movie was about this taxi driver Jerry Fletcher who traced conspiracy in everything and all of sudden one of his theories came to be true. Mel Gibson was incredible playing a man who was funny and serious, brilliant and a bid mad. And this queer person couldn't feel 'normal' if he didn't buy a copy of 'The Catcher in the Rye' every day. And that impressed me so much that after that I bought the book myself. I don't know why I did it. Generally, I hate to be told what to do, less what to read. But at that time perhaps I needed to feel 'normal' too. Now, four years later, I read it again. And I was a bit nervous about it. After all there is this disaster called 'time' and we are all infected by it but there is no cure. ...read more.


Of course, we need some concrete surface in order to keep us from falling into the abyss of the unknown that frightens us with its changeability. Likewise, Holden needs The Museum of Natural History because it is 'unchanging and frozen'6. The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was.7 'Traumatized and made acutely aware of the fragility of life by his brother Allie's death, Holden is terrified by the idea of change and disappearance.'8 But at the same time he is curious and fascinated 'to encounter the mysteries of the world'9. His interest in where the ducks go during the winter is symbolic for his subconscious understanding that every change, the source of his fears, is temporary. And the pond itself becomes a metaphor of Holden's temporary state. 'The pond is in transition between two states, just as [he is] in transition between childhood and adulthood.'10 Generally, critics view the novel as 'Holden Caufield's melodramatic struggle to survive in the adult world, a transition that he was supposed to make during his years at preparatory school'11. Some critics will point to the fact that Holden has flunked out of three Pennsylvania prep schools, and use it to symbolize the fact that he is not truly ready for adulthood.12 During this particular period of his life Holden really cannot deal with the insincerity and cruelness of the real world and he prefers to put his red hunting hat in order to isolate himself from the others. ...read more.


After all, what memories are. A different world, an illusion or the key to our inner castle, Nous, made not only of our dreams, ideals, love but of all our disappointments and shattered illusions as well. After all this is who we are, it's up to us to open it. Perhaps, by telling this story Holden has found it. As James Bryan observes: "The richness in the spirit of this novel, especially of the vision, the compassion, and the humor of the narrator reveal a psyche far healthier that of the boy who endured the events of the narrative. Through the telling of the story, Holden has given shape to, and thus achieved control of, his troubled past."20 In conclusion, I would like to say that my approach no matter how ambitious sounded at the beginning, is just a mere attempt of contemplation on the complex nature of human personality. Of course, 'The Catcher in the Rye', offers many more insights and observations to the reader's consideration. Whatever I say it will be partial and insufficient. It's up to the individual and his/her need to pursue knowledge. And in this respect I would like to quote William Blake: If thought is life And strength and breath, And the want Of thought is death, Then am I A happy fly, If I live Or if I die. ...read more.

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