Essay on The Complexity of Holden Caulfield

Essay on The Complexity of Holden Caulfield

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The Complexity of Holden Caulfield
J.D Salinger writes from personal experience in his novel, The Catcher in the Rye. The American author lived in New York City and attended a Manhattan public school for most of his adolescence before attending a boarding school that he soon left. He also suffered a mental breakdown while serving in the army. His experiences were a major part in not only the plot of his novel, but in building the character of Holden Caulfield. As the male protagonist in this coming of age novel, Holden Caulfield was faced with several obstacles to overcome. During his journey he deals with stress, anxiety, and difficult decisions while he was exposed to prostitutes, thieves, financial difficulty, and other foreign aspects of this unfamiliar reality. During this journey, he contradicts himself by attempting to protect the innocence of the youth around him while he makes obvious his ceaseless determination to reach adulthood prematurely. In this situation, his desires lead him to mental instability from an already questionable mental state. In The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger explores the complexity of mental illness through the male protagonist, Holden Caulfield, during his impossible mission of preserving the innocence of others.
Throughout the novel, Holden Caulfield deals with a complex variety of emotions that lead to a mental breakdown. In the beginning of the novel he introduces his story as a series of past events. “I’ll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy.” (Salinger, p. 1). By the end of the novel the reader can assume he is revisiting the events from a mental institutio...


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...Web. 22 Mar., 2014.
Baumbach, J. "The Saint as a Young Man: A Reappraisal of the Catcher in the Rye". Salem Press, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
Edwards, Duane. "Holden Caulfield". Major Literary Characters: Holden Caulfield. Bloom, Harold. Boston: Chelsea House Publishers, 1990. Pp. 105-113. Print.
Miltner, Robert. "Catching Holden Through a Cultural Studies Lens." Critical Insights: The Catcher in the Rye. Ed. Dewey Joseph. 1 vols. Salem Press, 2011. Salem Literature Web.
Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951. Print.
Schmitz, Lindsay. "Salinger, J.D. (1919–2010)." American Counter-cultures. Sharpe Online Reference (2014): n. pag. Web.
Trowbridge, Clinton W. "The Symbolic Structure of the Catcher in the Rye". The Sewanee Review, Vol. 74, No. 3. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966. Pp. 681-693. Print.


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