Dialectic Journal for Catcher in the Rye Essay
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“… and all that David Copperfield kind of crap but I don’t feel like going through it if you want to know the truth… my parents would have about two hemorrhages a piece it I tell anything pretty personal about them.” (Page 1) Response:
This excerpt makes me very curious about his family members. The tone makes me believe that Holden probably is ashamed by them or he doesn’t like them when he describes them as “crap”. His parents’ attitude toward telling others personal stories is also confusing.
It is not clear whether they are the ones inhibiting Holden from telling or not. I predict that Holden is reluctant when it comes to uncovering truths about his life. This quote is important because it gives me background information into Holden’s family life, as well as revealing a variety of characteristics of his personality. From this quote, I could tell that Holden does not have motivation to excel in school and he does not seem to care about getting kicked out.
Being the teenager that he is, Holden does not realize the importance of education in his life, thus not caring about the severe consequences.
“He said he talked to Jesus all the time, even when he was driving his car. That killed me. I can just see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear and asking Jesus to send him more shifts.” (Page 17) Response:
The quote made me really confused because I do not understand what Holden meant by shifting gear in this passage. However, now I understand that he does not like braggers and fakers. Also, Holden finds it irrational that these people dare to say they follow Jesus. I agree with him. If standing in a parking lot does not make you a car, then going to a church does not mean you are incredibly religious. This also seems to be one sign of Holden’s immaturity. It is very clear that when Holden starts to horse around, he puts an effort into annoying those surrounding him.
“I didn’t care about not seeing the movie anyway… Besides, I’d been to the movies before with Auckly and Brossard.” (Page 37) Response:
This quote seems ironic to me in ways more than one. Holden normally hates watching movies because he thinks that actors are fake and phony. He also does not like Auckly that much. In this section of the book, Holden does not seem glum and miserable as usual because he is acting like a regular teenager would. Holden’s invitation to Auckly proves that he is caring and sensitive to Auckly’s emotions. He also knows that loneliness is the worst situation so he helps Auckly out of it at least for one night. I also feel as if Holden really did care about seeing the movie because of the tone evolved in his voice.
“He got leukemia and died when we were up in Maine, on July 18, 1946. 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.” (Page 49) Response:
This quote seemed very significant to me. It informed me that Holden had a younger brother named Allie who died from Leukemia. It is extremely clear that when Holden thinks about Allie, all he thinks about is how amazing of a person Allie was. I get the feeling that Holden is very fond of his siblings and has developed a fantastic relationship with them over time, making the death of Allie a major impact on his life. Also, the way Holden seems to be acting in this scene in the book tells me that he has strong feelings for Jane. The way he is talking about Stradlater has a connotation of evilness and mystery as to why he is afraid about Jane. Holden used to be close friends with Jane and he knows things about her that is worrying him about the intimate relationship she might form with Stradlater.
“I was right away sorry I’d said it, but it was too late.” (Page 75)
In my perspective, Holden tells these lies because he is used to it, but every time in the end he feels guilty. I think the fact that Holden feels bad about what he has done makes him a mature young man. He recognizes his mistakes and recognizes the horrid feeling of telling a lie. Many people in life have had moments where they have said something and regretted it immediately. This is the exact situation in which Holden was in. Holden had just had one of those relatable moments involving the guilt from saying something harsh and how it immediately affects him. However, he soon realizes that it is unfortunately too late to take back the words he had said.
“The fish-that’s different. The fish is different. I’m talking about the ducks.” (Page 82) Response:
In this passage of the book, Holden is thinking scientifically. This supports the fact that he is smart after all, even though he his failing most of his classes. Often times, a teenager wants something so bad, they come up with crazy and somewhat stupid ideas and plans to help them obtain that something. Maybe this is because he does not want to try or maybe he wants to fit in with others who would not accept him if he was smart. In this metaphor, he is comparing himself the ducks in Central Park when the lagoon freezes over. What Holden is really saying is the fact that he would not know where to go if he stays living in a place full of phonies and rude people. The ducks cannot swim in ice and he will not stay in a school full of fakes.
“She hasn’t felt too healthy since my brother Allie dies. She’s very nervous. That’s another reason why I hated like hell for her to know I got the ax again.” (Page 140) Response:
This quote clearly explains how Holden is definitely not the only one who is affected by his brother, Allie’s, death. Holdens mother has gained severe
health problems ever since Allie passed away. His mother is also very nervous, and I have come to conclusion that this is probably because she is afraid to lose another child of her own. However, not matter what her reason, Holden is concerned about his mother, and he feels saddened and guilty that his problems will affect her. This seems to be one of the real reasons as to why he does not want his parents, especially his mother, to know about him getting kicked out of school once again. I can relate to Holden in this situation in the fact that there is much pain and struggle that goes on within a family when a tragedy happens.
“I kept putting my hand over my stomach and all to keep the blood from dripping all over. I didn’t want anybody to know I was wounded. I was concealing the fact that I was a wounded sunuvabitch.” (Page 150) Response:
Back in the hotel when Holden caught himself into a fight and became the punching bag for the elevator guy, he pretended to be shot in the stomach. It is worth noting that Holden does the same thing now. I will infer that Holden may have seen this played out in a movie and such a scene became imprinted in his head. Also, this passage is extremely symbolic as to how Holden is feeling. It is very clean that Holden has a ton of issues that are depressing him but he is not showing that among others. I feel as though if Holden received help from a therapist or even a loved one he could excel in life and not have to live in such a tremendous lie anymore. In this depressed state, Holden is looking for much comfort. In some ways Holden proves he has much strength, but in other ways he proves he is a weak liar.
“Then I took my hunting hat from my coat pocket and gave it to her.” (Page 180) Response:
In this quote it is clear that Holden feels attached to it because he is able to recognize the connection he has with it. When he puts on the hat, he feels almost outside of himself and feels like there is someone that understands him. He understands himself even if no one else does. He feels safe when he wears it. The hunting hat is very symbolic to Holden. He wears it whenever he wants to feel protected and loved. It is probably the only object he cherishes. Giving that hat to Phoebe is a terrific example of being the catcher in the rye because he was to protect the children from the severity of life. Among those children, his favorite person is Phoebe, and this is why he chose the hand off the hunting hat to her.
“but this damn article I started reading made me almost worst. It was all about hormones. It describes how you should look, your face and eyes and all, if your hormones were in good shape, and I didn’t look that way at all.” (Page 195) Response:
Holden appears to be sad, lonely, and in desperate need of comforting. Unfortunately he decides to turn to alcohol for comfort. This clearly demonstrates how Holden behaves when dealing with certain issues as well as showing another immature side of him. Holden is originally skinny. He was supposed to be on a certain diet to help him gain weight, but he never eats enough. In fact, he rarely mentions food in his whole novel. His body is not receiving the essential nutrition in order for his body to function correctly, and consequently his hormones are not going to form completely. Many organs in his body will not work correctly, this includes his brain. This is scientifically why Holden will wind up in a mental hospital to seek help with his personal issues.