You ever feel like you just have a great grasp on how everything works but no one else gets it? Shackled by dreary society and stuck in a perpetual loop of nothing? Like everyone around you is simply a poser, a fake, a phoney?
Probably not, because you’re not nearly as edgy as Holden Caulfield, the focus of The Catcher in the Rye.
The book starts off with the story of Holden as he looks to make the most of his last few days of the term at the somewhat prestigious boys’ school: Pencey.
Except that’s what he would have been doing had be not been kicked out, a situation that we the reader learn is all too familiar to Holden.
We watch as he tries to leave his mark on the school in any way possible from starting arguments and fights with his roommates to screaming in the middle of the night before bolting out and leaving the place behind. Only to end up on a semi-depressing trip around New York spent judging everyone around him, meeting and then pushing away all the people who give him a chance and trying his hardest to be a well seasoned adult who knows it all.
That’s the linchpin of Holden’s character. He’s a know it all.
A typical spoilt brat with no appreciation of anything or anyone around him, quick to push people away but never able to admit or properly express how much they mean to him deep down. By the end of the book we literally see this boy spiral into a self -induced state of despair and denial as Holden literally tries to run from his problems. And the further he goes down his route of darkness the more he tries to deny the truth that he’s broken and needs help. That he doesn’t know it all, that deep down, he’s the phony. Not anyone else.
The book does however have its redemption point. Holden is saved near the end of the book by his younger sister’s presence. The one person who doesn’t give up when shut away by Holden.So devoted to the cause of helping her brother that Phoebe Caulfield even packs her bags and is ready to give up her normal life to be with her brother who at that point had chosen to run away and try to start his life anew instead of face his problems and the looming prospect of telling his parents he’d been expelled from Pencey.
From trying to drink alcohol in any way possible, to starting fights, to smoking in almost every chapter, to thinking he can simply start life by himself somewhere in the country, to even trying to hire a prostitute and then talk to her instead of actually have sex. Holden is a child who thinks he has a grasp on what adult life is like and refuses to accept that he has no idea. He struck me as a child who had no positive adult figure in his life, or at least any he really paid attention to.
Deep down despite all his attempts to be a big man, Holden just wanted to loved and cared for like a child. This is very evident in his desperate confession to Sally before verbally abusing her when it wasn’t received well, and by the end when he’s looked after by his sister.
The Catcher in the Rye is interesting, its a look into the warped view of the world through the eyes of a lost delusional boy who could have become something so much greater. His intelligence wasted and turned to pessimistic musings at the expense of others as his soul cries for help while his mouth cries profanities.
A diamond lost its shine, a flower wilting in the harsh winter.