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Many teens experience a transitioning phase in their life to figure out how they fit in the complicated world. The main character in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, seems to be going through that phase and is having a hard time facing/understanding the direction his life is heading. In the book’s three days, Holden’s action portrays how confused and lost he is in a world that’s different from the one he imagines. When he’s in a state of uncertainty, he turns to smoking and drinking to help him cope with his depressive self.
Holden suffers from family neglect which causes him to have sudden flashbacks of the lively past that he longs for. This evokes him to neglect things around him due to his uncertainty in life.
As a sixteen-year-old teen, Holden is from a pretty wealthy household with parents that are too busy to help and understand him. Since he lives at school, their relationship with each other is quite distant.
His father expects him to do well in school and his mother, who constantly smokes at night, seems to be having a hard time. The only people that he seems to enjoy being with are Phoebe, his younger sister, and Allie, his younger brother. Other than that, it leaves him by himself and he has to rely on his instincts to solve problems. Holden has witnessed quite a few deaths which could be the main cause of why he can’t seem to grasp the reality of life around him.
Allie, who died of leukemia, got introduced into the story when Holden was describing the baseball glove that he deeply cared about. Holden views Allie as the most intelligent and nicest member of his family. Holden went mad the night that Allie died, [he] broke all the goddamn windows with his fist, just for the hell of it” (44). Their relationship was really strong because the loss of Allie has certainly changed Holden. Holden tries to turn towards the happy memories of Allie and regrets the hasneglecttoactions he once did to him. He would love to be able to spend time with Allie again because he’s the only one that can understand Holden. This incident makes Holden afraid of changes around him. After Allie’s death, Holden’s parents were going to have him psychoanalyzed because his sadness turned towards anger. Holden witnessed another death at Elkton Hills when a boy named James Castle committed suicide by jumping out the window because he didn’t want to take back the words he said. In a sense, Holden is living his life like James because he is refusing to live in the world regularly. Viewing all these deaths has made Holden depressed and his thoughts/actions are filled with connotations regarding death. Since his family members are too busy to recognize Holden’s sufferings, he starts to choose neglect in order totohelps the make life easier to understand in his complicated life.
Since his family members aren’t guiding him, Holden is often confused about what he wants to do with his life. Several times in the novel, Holden tries to ask indirectly for help. When he was on a taxi ride he asked the driver, “do you happen to know where [the ducks] go, when [the lake] gets all frozen over?”(67). The annoyed driver just thought of his question as a joke and shrugged it off. Through these frequent rejections, Holden starts sectioning himself off from others and their opinions. He starts to have make-believe scenarios and images that go accordingly to how he wants the world to be. As he was walking around Fifth Avenue waiting for Phoebe, he felt that when “every time [he] came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddamn curb, [he] had this feeling that [he’d] never get to the other side of the street”(217). Through these fantasies, Holden feels important and noticed because every time that he makes it to the other side he thanks Allie, whom he thinks is watching over him. His fantasy makes him feel wanted, unlike how he is viewed and treated in the real world. Towards the end, Holden meets with Mr. Antolini, who recognizes Holden’s struggles and tries to give him some advice in life. But, Holden freaked out because Mr. Antolini took his concern and affected ction too far and Holden thought he was making sexual gestures toward him. He rushed out of his apartment saying that “[those] kind of stuff’s happened to [him] about twenty times since [he] was a kid [and] [he] can’t stand it”(213). At this point, Holden has felt so much rejection that when Mr. Antolini, with his kind gestures, comes along and helps Holden takes it the wrong way and chooses not to accept it. Holden’s neglections start to show after experiencing many failed encounters with the guidance.
Holden has been neglected by his family members which transitioned him into neglecting others/ideas around him. Both he and others take part in how Holden reacts to things in his life. He deeply longs for the past, especially memories with Allie, and the only person he truly trusts is Phoebe. In this phase of his life, neglecting others can’t give him the support he needs to move on in life, thus he is struggling to figure out his future.
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