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Catcher in the Rye - Holden Caulfield Needs Logotherapy
Throughout the book Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, a boy who does not know his place in life, illustrates the human need for logotherapy. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, wrote "Mans search for meaning", in which he describes his experiences and ways of resisting the efforts of dehumanization in the holocaust. In Viktor Frankl's writing he delineates Logotherapy, which are three principles of mankind. The main character in Catcher in the Rye is Holden Caulfield, he is an unstable young man, who wanders around New York for three days, without knowing where to go or what do. Holden Caulfield would benefit if he applied Logotherapy to his everyday life.
The first principle of logotherapy states that's man has an inborn will to meaning, "We seek to live not only for ourselves, but to contribute something of worth to other people and to the world we live in."(370) Holden Caulfield rarely shows this trait, but he does reveal it seldomly to people he does not know for example when he says to a cab driver, "You know those ducks in that lagoon right near central park? That little lake? By any chance do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over?âˆ¦"(60) This exhibits that Holden cares for some things, which means he has a will to meaning somewhere inside of him, he just needs to find it, like one of his teachers says, "âˆ¦but I can very clearly see you dying nobly, for some highly unworthy cause"(188) In this quote, Mr. Antolini is telling Holden that he believes he will do something worthy with his life, but it will not be something very useful.
Man has free will acts as the second aspect of logotherapy. Viktor Frankl states, " Man's freedom is no freedom from conditions but rather freedom to take a stand on whatever conditions might confront him"(371) Holden Caulfield sometimes shows free will, "âˆ¦I couldn't think of a room or a house or anything to describeâˆ¦So what I did, I wrote about my brother Allies baseball mitt."(38) This shows he can think for himself and that he does not just do what people tell him to do.
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The last tenet of logotherapy states that life has meaning. Holden does not know the meaning of his life, nor does he care. Throughout the book a few people try to tell him that he is not headed anywhere because of his choices in life. Mr. Antolini says to him, "I don't want to scare you, but I can very clearly see you dying nobly, on way or another, for some highly unworthy causeâˆ¦"(188) He tells Holden that he does not think he will do anything good with his life if he does not improve his habits. Also Holden's sister, Phoebe tries to make him realize he has no direction. "âˆ¦You don't like any schools. You don't like a million things. You don't."(169) Holden will not agree with this statement, but he does not even end up telling her something he likes, besides Allie, his dead brother.
Holden Caulfield, portrayed by J.D. Salinger would benefit greatly from Logotherapy, which are principles derived by Viktor Frankl. Holden Caulfield hardly uses the first aspect of logotherapy, a man has an inner will to meaning, although not in front of his friends. As the book goes on we see that he uses free will, the second principle often. The last is life has meaning, which Holden does not really apply to his life.