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The Catcher in the Rye

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Introduction

In our lives, there are many different people we meet, and all of them unique in their own way. Each and every person has their own personality, and meeting someone new can be a wonderful experience. An event like no other is meeting the protagonist from the novel The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield. Encountering him is an experience all on its own, for he is a rare literary character. Holden is a complex character affected by the death of his brother Allie, challenged by bipolar disorder, and burdened by his self-imposed responsibility as the catcher in the rye. The life of Holden Caulfield changed forever the day his brother Allie died of leukemia. He held a special place in his heart for his younger brother, and when Allie died, Holden took a turn for the worse. His reaction to Allie's death is shocking yet understandable during a time of grief and anger. Holden admits to sleeping in the garage the next night. "I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. I even tried to break all the windows on the station wagon we had that summer, but my hand was already broken and all." ...read more.

Middle

Holden has the criteria for "definite depression": loss of energy, agitation, feelings of self-reproach and guilt, complaints of diminished ability to concentrate, mixed-up thoughts, and recurring thoughts of death (Edwards 113). Holden cannot remember what happened between chapters twenty-five and twenty-six, with a span of one a year in between. This is a characteristic of mania: those who suffer from this disease cannot usually remember what they said or did during the manic period. Also, Holden exhibits some symptoms which must be present in mania: distractibility, racing thoughts, and push of speech (bipolarhome). Another characteristic of mania is overspending. Holden leaves Pencey with plenty of money, to the point where he flaunts his wealth; yet, he returns home soon after literally throwing his last dime into a pond. Another symptom is a loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex. Although Holden has a distaste for all activities, sex is something he never tires of talking about. He considers himself to be "the biggest sex maniac you ever saw."(Salinger 62) When he calls Sunny the prostitute up to his room, he decides not to have sex with her. He explains it as simply not being in the mood. ...read more.

Conclusion

The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold rings, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they do fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them."(Salinger 211) This is the point where Holden completely abandons his role as he watches Phoebe ride the carousel reaching for the gold rings as she goes around and around. He still worries she falls off, but he will not do anything about it, because she needs to experience it for herself. Experience is what life is all about. When taking away bad experience at a young age, what will they come to expect when they grow older? Unlikely anything that is bad or could hurt them. Holden has learned that he cannot live up to his self-imposed responsibility as the catcher in the rye. The complexity of Holden has been examined through the death of his brother Allie, dealing with his bipolar disorder, and dealing with his self-imposed responsibility as the catcher in the rye. Meeting Holden is an experience for young readers, for the book deals with issues that are pertinent to them. Holden, being a unique personality different from all others in literature, makes this novel one to be remembered. Meeting someone new certainly can be quite the learning experience. ?? ?? ?? ?? Clarke 7 ...read more.

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