Dan Miller Catcher in the Rye Analysis Holden Caulfield almost seems like the ideal teenager, in our culture. He completely rejects the idea of growing up. His unhappiness, and his way of showing it, makes him relate with readers who come from backgrounds completely different from his. It is tempting to dwell in his point of view and his weirdness rather than try to figure out what is wrong with him. There are clear signs that Holden is troubled and unpredictable.
He is hospitalized. He fails out of four schools. He lacks enthusiasm toward his future.
He is unable to connect with other people. He has had two tragedies in his past that clearly have something to do with his sanity. The death of his brother Allie and the suicide of one of his schoolmates but, even with that information, Holden’s weirdness cannot simply be explained away as a specific mental disorder. Out of all of Holden’s traits the biggest one, most related to I believe, is Holden’s rebel attitude and actions.
Holden hardly thinks about the implications his actions have towards his future, mainly because he doesn’t seem to care about it.
He is worried about kindness rather than material wealth. He loathes phonies. He smokes, drinks, swears, and most likely listens to the devils music. He hates his parents, but he is still dependent on them. This can be said of most teenagers today. The tensions created when someone is trying to find their own identity can be tremendous. It can drive people to the edge of insanity. Holdenwho was already extremely unstable in the membrane, completely loses it. He is not willing to face the facts of his future.
Many teens are the same way today. The live fast die young attitude has really caught on to our culture. The youth are idolized and encouraged to live on the wild side. The fact that this book was first published in the 1950’s it was somewhat ahead of its time. Salinger’s book however did pave the way for the rise of the teenager in our culture. Beginning in the fifties corporations realized that teenagers were a very large market. From then on media and all sorts of entertainment hasbeen aimed out teen audiences.
The fact that Catcher in the Rye was originally written for adults, but now has become a classic among teens and young adults, really verifies the shift in popular culture towards teens. Holden’s rebellious actions have become glorified by today’s teens. His attitude towards his contemporaries seems to be mixed feelings. He complains about them, but still claims to miss them. Teens today feel a large amount pressure to fit into a group. They have to sustain their ego by belonging to a larger identity. Holden seems to rebel against this tendency.
He sets himself far apart from other at his school, via isolation, and alienation. He does not attend sporting events with the rest of the schools and while leaving he yells at all of them, “sleep tight ya morons. ” Holden’s separation from the rest of society, served as a model for many subculture movements throughout the rest of the 20th century. The beat generation took on some of Holden’s rebellious attitude. They rejected modern society and consumerism. They took on a pro active urban lifestyle instead. Holden seems to reject movies and the culture surrounding them.
Holden instead enjoys literature. The book does not really touch on the musical tastes of Holden. Today’s teens contradict Holden on views of art and media. Teens embrace all sorts of music and cinema. However, rebellious teens prefer independent projects, and reject mass corporation creations. Despite these differences, Holden Caulfield has laid the ground work for modern teenagers. Holden’s dance with insanity is portrayed in such a great way in this book. It is hard for anyone not to relate in some ways with Holden. Like Mark Twain said, “Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination. ”
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