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The Rainbow Stripes and their Meaning.

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Benjamin F. Cocchiaro Mrs. Cassel, p. 5 English 1O, 6.O 8 April 2OO3 The Rainbow Stripes and their Meaning Growing into adulthood is a harrowing trial for everyone and the death of a family member can make the passage all the more unbearable. So it has been for Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of JD Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Holden is a severely disturbed youth. A trinity of problems stems from the death of his younger brother, Allie. After witnessing the passing of his brother, Holden finds himself fascinated with death, unable to love, and unwilling to grow up. These problems are amplified and aggravated by the people Holden encounters and the events that take place both during his upbringing and during his adventure in New York City. Holden is emotionally and mentally disturbed. Since the death of his brother, Holden had become a morbid youth. His fixation on death manifests itself through various different quirks in his personality. One of the most prominent mannerisms is Holden's tendency to say "that killed me." (Salinger 77) While the phrase is used lightly, the frequency with which he uses it throughout the book seems like somewhat of a Freudian slip, revealing a subconscious and quite possibly conscious death wish. He even goes as far as to fantasize about his own death and funeral. ...read more.


The night Holden's brother died, "[he] slept in the garage,... and... broke all the goddam windows with [his] fist, just for the hell of it." () In addition to this display of complete despair and anger being a direct result of the death of Allie, Holden goes as far as to justify his actions By saying that "It was a very stupid thing to do, I'll admit, but I hardly didn't even know I was doing it, and you didn't know Allie." (39) This action, however, did far much more harm than good. As a result of his injury, on the day of his brother's funeral, "[He] wasn't there. [He] was still in the hospital." (155) Because of his inability to attend the funeral of his brother, Allie still remains unburied to Holden, both from the ground and from his mind. As such, Allie still lives in Holden, forever young and innocent. Allie is one of two people who have attained perpetual childhood, and stands as an ideal for Holden to strive for. Of course, striving for such an ideal is striving for death, which is where Holden's fascination stems from. The other character that remains forever young to Holden is his childhood friend, Jane Gallagher. Their families belonged to the same country club, and Holden would often play checkers with Jane. ...read more.


That night, Holden stays with the Antolinis. He awakens from sleep to find Antolini "sitting on the floor right next to the couch, in the dark and all, and he was sort of petting [Holden]... on the goddam head." (192) This act was taken to be a sexual advance by Holden, who reacted in a knee-jerk manner and left the Antolini apartment in a hurry. Antolini's action nullifies Holden's chance for salvation, as his advice becomes meaningless to Holden. What once were words of a wise and respected teacher become the words of another phony adult, trying to corrupt Holden. (Seng 3) In a bleak world with no true heroes or respected people, there is little hope for a healthy state of mind. So it is for Holden Caulfield, whose only role model is his deceased younger brother, Allie. Holden strives to be like Allie, and in striving, Holden deprives himself of both an education and copulation, all in the name of preserving innocence. In addition, because Holden never received total closure regarding his brother's death, Holden is obsessed with death and dying. The death of Allie has been traumatizing for Holden, and if he is to recover from the trauma, Holden must move on from his perpetual state of grieving for Allie, and into adulthood. It is a harrowing journey, indeed. However, it is one that Holden and every adolescent must travel. ...read more.

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