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"The Catcher in The Rye" is a novel by J.D. Salinger.

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Introduction

"The Catcher in the Rye" "The Catcher in The Rye" is a novel by J.D. Salinger which addresses the themes of self-discovery, the transition of child to adult and mental breakdown. The novel is a monologue narrated by Holden Cauldfield, a sixteen-year-old prep school boy who spends three eventful days in New York. To begin with I found Holden a rather unattractive character, but towards the end of his narrative I felt sympathetic towards him as I became aware of his social and emotional difficulties and his impending breakdown. Holden's story gives account of a boy struggling to become a man but who succumbs an emotional and mental collapse. It is a sad and sometimes funny portrayal of the final decline into the breakdown of an adolescent; most of all however it is a convincing account of his breakdown. Early on in the narrative a discerning reader could recognise that the speaker, Holden Cauldfield, is emotionally unstable: "Besides, I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything. ...read more.

Middle

I couldn't let him get away with that stuff." Even by this time it is evident to the reader that Holden is suffering from some degree of emotional instability. Despite Holden Caulfield's instability and capacity to lie his way through every situation he finds difficult, he is undoubtedly an intelligent person. He tells lies when he finds himself in a social situation which he cannot cope with. Holden also lies to his teacher, justifying it by saying: "I didn't want to hurt his feelings." He lies to the prostitute saying: "I had an operation very recently." "On my wuddayacallit-clavichord." Before and after these social incidents Holden is always severely depressed. After the prostitute has left he is again depressed and begins to talk out loud to Allie his dead brother: "I kept telling him to go home and get his bike and meet me in front of Bobby Fallon's house." Here his depression is mixed with guilt about not having treated Allie well. This trail of clues makes it very clear that Holden's mental stability is extremely fragile. ...read more.

Conclusion

Holden Caulfield's wealthy background may have been a contributory factor in this breakdown. His parents, about whom he says little, do not appear to care much for him, though he always has plenty of money. Allie his dead brother is a source of difficulty for Holden as is his older brother, D.B who is on the way to becoming a "phoney" through "prostituting" himself in Hollywood. It is these experiences that have undoubtedly shaped Holden's unpredictable, lonely unbalanced personality. Holden certainly feels closest to children. His younger sister Phoebe is his main source of pleasure. She is the example of the " non-phoney" the innocence of children. There is a moment however, when Phoebe becomes aware of the realality of her brother's problems. "She was looking at me sort of funny." She realises she must humour Holden and protect his illusions, there after she must act out the role of little sister. Now the reader is in no doubt as to Holden's condition. The breakdown is not only emotional but also physical, Holden tells us: "But I was afraid I'd feel like vomiting again," "I sort of had diarrhoea," "I thought I was going to pass out cold. ...read more.

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