• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How Past Events Affect Holden Caulfield's Life

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The Catcher in the Rye Year 2007 Essay Influence of the past resonates within society and ultimately within each individual. This influence, however, can be of detrimental or of advantageous affect. Holden Caulfield, protagonist of the novel The Catcher in the Rye, experiences first hand the effects of two earth-shattering traumas and of spirit breaking setbacks that play a toll on his emotional psyche. These incidences, the death of Caulfield's brother, the suicide of a school friend and his constant feeling of alienation, eventually leads him to reject what he feels is the "phoniness" of the adult world. The death of Holden's brother, Allie, greatly affected his ties to reality and preempted his mental breakdown. For instance, in chapter twenty-five, while wandering around New York, Holden continually prays to his brother saying, "Allie, don't let me disappear. Allie don't let me disappear," until he reached the other side of each street. This lapse in mental stability implies that Holden does not feel that he has a connection amongst his environment. ...read more.

Middle

The fantasy in which he describes reflects again his volatility and bitterness that the world has left him to fall over the cliff into adulthood alone. Unfortunately, Holden's inability to cope with adult situations has caused him to force himself back into a child-like mindset where the world and everyone around him is unfit unless they correspond to his vision of correct. Holden's distorted view of the world forces him to undergo feeling alienated and ostracized. As a result, his estrangement causes him to feel lonely and in turn, he seeks out situations to overcome his loneliness and depressed moods. One such plight is his date with Sally Hayes, an attractive girl whom Holden has known for a long time. In chapter seventeen, he says, "I felt like marrying her the minute I saw her," and then ricochets from annoyance to attraction as he suggests a farfetched plan where they run away from their lives, in New York, to a cabin. After Sally rejects his offer Holden's callous response reveals, once again, that he is ill equipped to make any level of connection with people. ...read more.

Conclusion

Moreover, Holden's possible homosexual encounter with Mr. Antolini, his former teacher, in chapter twenty-four, fosters his fear of adult themes by leaving him shaken and confused. As with everything else in his life Holden is unable to handle, what he feels just happened so he jumps to conclusions and loses all trust and faith he once had for his teacher. These rash actions prove that he needs to maintain an oversimplified view of the world in order to sustain any sense of the stability he has left. The traumatic events of Holden Caulfield's life are of detrimental effect to his mental stability. The death of both his brother and schoolmate causes him to feel he must protect the innocence and purity, which is childhood, from the disillusioned and often bewildering decent into adulthood. This fantastic job, "the catcher in the rye," is all Holden aspires to be because he resents that he is free falling into adulthood without anyone to "catch" him. As a result, he is unable to interact and connect with people or in adult situations, calling them phony and superficial. Holden lacks the ability to accept reality as a whole and consequently inches closer to his imminent breakdown. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level J.D. Salinger section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level J.D. Salinger essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    'Holden's quest is an impossible one; it is a quest for the preservation of ...

    4 star(s)

    Holden remarks how he "never looks bored", unlike the actors dressed up as angels who "could hardly wait to get a cigarette", and how he bangs his drums "so nice and sweet, with this nervous expression on his face". Holden reminisces about how used to watch this as a young

  2. a letter to holden caulfield

    It full of phonies, much like Pencey Prep where all you'd do is study for their tests all day so that you are knowledgeable enough to be a scientist or a business executive someday, and if the English Premier League was being aired you had make believe you supported a team, otherwise, they'd think you're weird.

  1. Theme in The Catcher in the Rye.

    As he says to Mr. Spencer, he feels trapped on "the other side" of life, and he continually attempts to find his way in a world in which he feels he doesn't belong. As the novel progresses, we begin to perceive that Holden's alienation is his way of protecting himself.

  2. How does JD Salinger use the character of Holden Caulfield to explore the issues ...

    Innocence is lost in growing up and this dream of Holden's highlights his ignorance in this matter and that he is not yet ready for adult life. Through symbolism Holden expresses his rebellion against capitalism by showing interest in communism.

  1. How does the reliability of the narrator, and they style they use, affect the ...

    Another important factor relating to the reliability of both narrators is that of time. Nelly is relating a story some of which happened over twenty years, yet she can relay conversations from back then word for word to Lockwood! This is very unlikeley and provokes the reader into thinking about

  2. How is adolescence presented in the Bell Jar and Catcher in the Rye

    of Holden's friends have lost their virginity and brag about their experiences to Holden, this gains more pressure for Holden who might feel he needs to loose his virginity so he isn't the minority among his friends. Esther feels that her virginity is holding her down like a 'millstone' and

  1. "The story it tells is episodic, inconclusive and largely made up of trivial events. ...

    To a certain extent this can be agreed with. It could be said that he goes from place to place and meeting different people, not learning anything a long the way. This can also be agreed with as the novel does not actually come to a specific conclusion which may

  2. Examine how effectively Chapter 16 deals with the main themes of the novel. Look ...

    This is one way in which we are able to see that Holden is being rebellious to his view of what society wants him to be. At the time that the novel was written America was just starting to get embroiled in the Cold War with Russia and there was great unease within the country.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work