A traumatic past can shape a person’s overall view on the world. Many times, the memories of the past negatively affect the person. In the book The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the author develops Holden’s cynical attitude by connecting him to painful memories and events such as Allie’s death, losing touch with Jane, and losing his trust in adulthood.
Holden deals with his younger brother Allie’s death with both negative and positive memories. For instance, when Holden is writing Stradlater’s report for him, he chooses the main topic on Allie’s baseball mitt and even goes on about what a good person Allie was.
“My brother Allie had this left-handed fielder’s mitt. He had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere. In green ink. He wrote them on it so that he’d have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up at bat. You’d have liked him. He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent. He was terrifically intelligent.” (49)
Holden is grateful and proud of his younger brother. Instead of remembering Allie’s death, Holden chooses to remember what a good person his brother was. On the other hand, when Holden is feeling lonely and thinking about death, he suddenly remembers Allie and his funeral. “I have about fifty aunts and lousy cousins…They all came when Allie died, the whole goddam stupid bunch of them. I have this one stupid aunt that kept saying how peaceful he looked lying there. I wasn’t there. I was still in the hospital” (201). When Holden is at his lowest, he seems to go back to the negative aspects of memories. Holden does not talk a lot about not going to Allie’s funeral because it would cause him too much pain. Secretly, Holden feels jea...
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... Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they’d wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them−all cockeyed, naturally−what it meant, and how they’d all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days.” (260)
Holden acts as a mature adult because he doesn’t want the youth to see adulthood. After this he even rubs it off the wall for the sake of the young children. Holden cares about the innocence of the young kids at Phoebe’s school. It is also ironic that Holden is upset about this because he himself uses foul language. Holden believes adulthood is cynical and deals with it both childish and maturely.
Overall, Holden’s overall character is built by past memories and events such as Allie’s death, losing his relationship with Jane, and losing sincerity in adulthood. Holden deals with the past both
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