catcher in the rye

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In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, a young man named Holden Caulfield goes through many misadventures during a three day stay in New York. Holden acts like a careless teenager but the reader gets the feeling that he cared once and wishes that he could again. He has what is almost an obsession with death and is constantly dwelling on the death of his brother Allie, who died of leukemia. He carries Allie’s baseball mitt with him wherever he goes. He was obviously very disturbed by Allie’s death as he broke all the windows in his garage with his bare fist with such force that his hand is still messed up. His feelings toward people and relationships tend to lean toward the negative side. He usually expects the worst, part of that seems to be issues he has from the loss of his brother Allie. One of the words he uses often throughout the novel is phony. He values honesty and sincerity, and can’t stand people who try to make themselves look better in the eyes of others. He flunks out of every school that his parents send him to including Pency, his current school. He seems to be fairly intelligent and the reader gets a sense that his problems in school are the result of lack of motivation. He isolates himself from those around him and seems to be afraid of change; always assuming it will be for the worst. He seems to have a great deal of love and respect for his sister Phoebe and his dead brother Allie. Holden is a very complex character and is difficult to understand.

The story begins on top of a hill overlooking the football stadium at Pency. Holden stands alone on top of the hill watching the game because he didn’t want to go down into the stadium with everybody else. This is a good beginning as it shows Holden’s tendency to isolate himself from others and his general dislike of people. He has flunked out of Pency, and is not supposed to return after Christmas vacation. Christmas vacation starts in three days but Holden gets fed up with his classmates and school in general and leaves to go to New York and get a hotel room. He doesn’t go home because he wants his parents to get the letter informing them of his expulsion before he comes home.

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