Free Catcher in the Rye Essays: The Fake Holden

Free Catcher in the Rye Essays: The Fake Holden

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Fake Holden in The Catcher in the Rye  


In The Catcher in the Rye, a boy named Holden Caulfield is faced with the obstacles of both society and life as he struggles to find direction as well as his relationship with the world. From page one, the reader can both understand and relate to what Holden has to say about the society in which we live and the way in which people in that society govern themselves. The more we read the more we identify with Holden Caulfield.

It seems like the typical, adolescent dilemma: How do I find my place in this life? Well, in most respects, Holden is not unlike the typical teenager. He, too, is on his own quest in order to find himself. He needs to find acceptance. Going to school at Pency, Holden becomes the manager for the fencing team. In doing so, he tried to gain friends as well as social status within his peers. Even then the whole team ostracized" (pg. 3) him. Like most teens at that age, Holden was having trouble gaining acceptance and making friends.

It seems like the typical, adolescent dilemma: How do I find my place in this life? Well, in most respects, Holden is not unlike the typical teenager. He, too, is on his own quest in order to find himself. He needs to find acceptance. Going to school at Pency, Holden becomes the manager for the fencing team. In doing so, he tried to gain friends as well as social status within his peers. Even then the whole team ostracized" (pg. 3) him. Like most teens at that age, Holden was having trouble gaining acceptance and making friends.

I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible. (pg.16) Holden's ability to lie is one of the first traits that he reveals about himself. He takes pride in saying that he is a good liar. His inability to have normal conversations and relationships is possibly one of the factors that has him shunned by his peers. Holden's insecurity is one of the reasons for his compulsive lying. This, in turn, is why he can't find his place in the world.

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The world doesn't know Holden, but neither does he. Neither can establish fact from fallacy.

It is Holden's rejection that forces him to act the way he does. To compensate for having no friends of his own age, he looks to the older and younger. Even though immature, Holden tries to act like an adult by smoking and drinking in hopes that he will find companionship. He even admits, though, "I'm a goddamn minor." (pg.70) When this approach fails, he goes to the complete opposite of the spectrum. "(Phoebe) was always someone you felt like talking to on the phone." (pg.66) The reason why Holden has such high regards for his sister in a world of "phonies" is two-fold. First, Holden comes across as being somewhat immature. (Proof of this is when he and Stradlater are fighting in the beginning of the book.) This would cause him to find comfort in talking to a younger person. Secondly, it seems as if Phoebe is really the only person that will listen to him, let alone not reject his presence. This, in itself, is enough reason for Holden to have such a strong bond with his younger sibling. Even she, however, still worries about Holden's meaningless existence.

The one section, in the first half of the book, that reveals something that Holden actually seems to care about is when he is driving in a taxi, thinking about the ducks of Central Park. "Well, you know the ducks that swim around in it? Do you happen to know where they go in the wintertime, by any chance?" (pg.81) For some odd reason, it is these ducks that give Holden security. Ironically, the ducks are a symbol of Holden. They, like Holden, disappeared without anyone knowing or caring. In essence, this is exactly what Holden did when he left Pency so arbitrarily. Like the ducks, no understands him nor do they care to. They and Holden alike took off with no direction, not knowing when they would return.

In the first half of The Catcher in the Rye, symbolism surrounded Holden as he wandered the streets of New York city. Everything from the ducks in the pond that Holden cannot seem to let go of to his failed attempt at having a nice time with Sally Hayes, Holden's problems relate to his personality traits that he does not tell us directly. Not surprisingly, the second half of the book is not much different in the fact that it, too, compares the happenings in the life of Holden Caulfield to a much more universal level of feeling, emotion, and thought.

In the second half of this novel, rather than the ducks, it seemed to be the museum which was a point of both interest and topic. This, in fact, is for legitament reasons. The Random House College Dictionary gives the definition of a museum to be "a building or place where works of art or other objects of a permanent value are kept and displayed". The key word in the definition is permanent, however. Holden said that, "the best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody'd move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just fishing those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole, with their pretty antlers and their pretty, skinny legs, and that squaw with the naked bosom would still be weaving the same old blanket. Nobody'd be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you'd be so much older or anything. It wouldn't be that, exactly. You'd just be different, that's all. You'd have an overcoat on this time. Or the kid that was your partner in line last time had got the scarlet fever and you'd have a new partner. Or you'd have a substitute taking the class, instead of Miss Aigletinger. Or you'd heard your mother and father having a terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you'd just passed by one of those puddles in the street with the gasoline rainbows in them. I mean you'd be different in some way-I can't explain what I mean." And Holden doesn't have to. We know what he means. He finds security in those things that stay constant, just like the ducks of Central Park. His insecurities force Holden to clutch on to things in order him to feel content. The museum was one of those things that Holden knew would remain exactly as he remembered it and he liked that thought. In a world of questions, problems, and phonies, the fact that the museum and all of its exhibits would stay as they were was one of the things that Holden could trust.

That passage also touches on a reason that Holden might feel as if the museum was the only thing that he could trust. Little things such as his teacher or partner being absent took affect in Holden's mind. He also gives a vague reason for other insecurities. If what is said about Holden's mother and father having a fight or numerous fights is true, then that could justify a handful of Holden's problems. The thought or not being able to trust that your own two parents would remain the same, would traumatize any child. Being able to put your faith in the two biggest influences in your life, is a security that most children are fortunate enough to have, yet Holden was neglected. When even they backslide, who is there to turn to? Well, maybe the ducks you saw in a pond or the museum that never seemed to change even when you did.

The question now is, why a museum? Out of all the art galleries, parks, and buildings that have been present in New York city from its establishment, why pick a lousy museum? Well, I think ol' J.D. had some symbolism in mind that goes even further than that already talked about. There are certain facts about museums that remain the same no matter where the location might be. Everything in it is always a replica (fake) or dead (such as dinosaurs). A lot of times, like in the book, the displays contain wax sculptures and mannequins of people. There is a relationship between the museum and Holden, however, that goes further than how he felt about it. Essentially, both Holden and the museum are fake. As already explained, the museum contains many fake and lifeless items. Holden, too, was a fake. He bragged about how he lied in the first half of the book, then goes on in the first and second half to definitely prove this statement. Most of the things he did or said in the book were lies that, only by his narration, the reader could decipher between. However, the characters in the book did not know when he was lying, as we did. So, throughout the book, Holden went about making many false relationships or just bluntly lied to others. He was no more real, than the wax figures, to anyone he met. In that sense, Holden was like the museum in which he found sanctuary from the world in. One was separated from the world by a pane of glass, the other by a wall of lies.
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