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Life is difficult especially for a teenager as they try to discover themselves. To make this journey of self-discovery alone is especially difficult. Support systems offer guidance and comfort along the way. The primary support system are parents. They begin the preparations for a child to take his place in society. Religion offers moral guidance. Friends offer positive self-esteem and encouragement. In the book, the Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger, the main character, Holden Caulfield, has none of these support systems. He lives in a form of isolation from his parents, religion, and friends.
Parents are the most important support system in their children’s lives. There is a breakdown in this support system for Holden. His relationship with his parents is very dysfunctional; he rarely talks to them and avoids seeing them in person. Mr. and Mrs. Caulfield have their own life agenda, which doesn’t include Holden as a priority. Their obligation is mainly to pay for the various boarding schools he attends. Holden’s parenting comes mostly from these boarding schools. Holden even feared returning home or was ambivalent about seeing his parents. When he did return home to visit his sister, Phoebe, he avoided his parents as much as possible. “It was a helluva lot easier getting out of the house than in, for some reason. For one thing, I didn’t give much of a damn anymore if they caught me. I really didn’t.” (p. 180) Any person that has a good relationship with their parents would certainly try go to them for help especially if they were in a difficult time in their life. Holden was undergoing a very difficult time in his life; he was lonely and desperate for someone to talk to. Instead of seeking his parents, he chose to avoid them. This portrays the lack of the primary support system in Holden’s life, his parents.
Religion can be a strong support system providing guidance, comfort, and answers during difficult times. This is of no avail to Holden. Holden can find neither solace nor direction from religion because he can’t pray and doesn’t like the disciples. “In the first place, I am sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don’t care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible.
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