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Essay/Term paper: Another catcher in the rye

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Catcher in the Rye

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Here is an essay on "The Catcher in the Rye" Hope you will

be able to post it! Through Holden's Eyes The Catcher in

the Rye has truly earned it's place among great classic

works. J. D. Salinger created a literary piece that was

completely unique. The entire novel was written in the first

person view of the 17-year-old, Holden Caulfield. The

majority of the story is compiled of Holden's rudimentary

monologue of 'complexly simple' thoughts, the rest utilizing

his relay of previous dialogue. That and the use of unique

punctuation, digressing explanations, and complex

characterization, transformed the simple plot into the

complex literary classic. The novel's dialogue and

monologue alike, manage to relay the feel of natural

speaking such as: "I mean you'd be different in some way - I

can't explain what I mean." The contractions; you'd and can't

- since they are common in everyday language - establish a

very common and simple tone. Stress on the first syllable of

"different," reinforces the tone by demonstrating how

typically they speak, just as in reality. He uses dashes for

pauses and signaling associative digressions. Instead of

signaling pauses, commas are used mostly where

mechanically required, for instance: "So all of a sudden, I ran

like a madman across the street - I d*** near got myself

killed doing it, if you want to know the truth - and went in

this stationary store and bought a pad and pencil." Holden

Caulfield creates a thought provoking point of view. On the

surface many of his thought patterns seem unrelated and

straying from the topic. His association of topic with

digression is used almost constantly throughout the novel.

However, realizing that these digressions are very relevant

and even crucial to the topic allow the reader to gain true

insight to the character. His statements about his sister's

intelligence, followed by explanations of how well she listens,

reveals Holden's associations of intelligence with being quiet

and observant. Another example would be his tension

around the nuns. Even though he enjoyed the conversation,

he worried about being asked if he was Catholic. He stated

they "...would have liked it better if he were Catholic." This

gives insight to his discomfort with being judged morally, and

to his association of people of morals looking down on those

who don't share them. In Holden's descriptions and

thoughts, Salinger accomplished the most unique aspect of

the story's point-of-view. Instead of using the popular -

however overrated - style of well refined thoughts and

flowery descriptions, Salinger describes things as they are

perceived upon a first impression. Naturally the human mind

does not instantly process first encounters or experiences

into drawn out rhetorical metaphors. We must think about

them first, relate and compare them to past experiences,

then form associations. This is based on Jean Piaget theory

of assimilating new situations, accommodating them with

previous knowledge, then forming generalizations for

understanding, called schemas. [Houghton-Mifflin

Psychology, pgs. 49-50] That is exactly how Salinger

describes Holden's thoughts. Holden, like us all, has

difficulty explaining things until they have been thought

through. For instance, Holden observes Stradlater's

grooming and his looks. Then he compares it to the way

guys look in yearbooks, and what parents say about them.

Last he concludes, through comparison, that Stradlater is the

kind of guy that your parents ask about. He states: "I've had

that experience quite frequently." In the more descriptive

writings of other authors, it is difficult to relate to the

complex associations. The majority of thought inspired by

these works can sometimes be just to figure out the point.

However, Salinger expresses the thought patterns of Holden

in the same inherent ways that all humans think, and through

that, relays a strong tone of realism and active thought.

Despite the lack of dazzling rhetoric, Salinger's descriptions

are no less intricate. They inspire a more natural style of

analyzation that most can relate to easily. A more logical and

linear path, relating to typical primal human thought, is

followed instead of abstract reasoning and artistic

representation. Finally, the elements previously discussed,

and a few independent ones, will be used to examine the

characterization of Holden Caulfield. Such as how

Caulfield's tendency toward constant introspection and

analyzing of his world, his digression of topics, and the

nature in which he speaks, gives us clues to his character.

His level of intelligence is in no way reflected by his lack of

knowledge on trivial issues. He is adept at reasoning the

things around him. Almost all of the insight Caulfield spoke

of were things that would not have been taught to him. Such

as repeatedly displaying understanding of human nature,

pretensions, and thought processes. However, despite his

intuition, he applies his often cynical and pessimistic

reasoning to almost everything. This fact illustrates ignorance

and a level of immaturity. This is obvious in his inquiry about

the ducks, thoughts concerning women, obscene graffiti, and

always getting a "pukey cab." Since the fact that his mental

health was brought up often with his thoughts of being crazy,

with statements like "I'm crazy, swear to God, I am..." and

references of psychological hospitalization in the beginning

and end, a psychological approach will be used to explain

his manner. Holden demonstrates tendencies associated with

both OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and bipolar

Disorder, consisting of swings between manic and

depressive states. OCD is characterized by obsessive

thoughts and their motivation of compulsive acts to relieve

the stress of the obsession. [Houghton Mifflin Psychology,

pg. 539] It is quite obvious that Holden is very obsessed

with detail. He also demonstrates a common symptom of

OCD, counting. At Grand Central Station, he mentions

repeatedly counting floor squares. Small details trouble him

endlessly. Once he becomes so obsessed with type of

luggage that his roomate has that he hides his own under the

bed. Bipolar Disorder, the more severe of the two, is the

most apparent in Caulfield. He displays an amazing amount

of symptoms of this Disorder. He suffers symptoms such as:

little need to sleep, difficulty remaining on topic discussions

(jumping from subject to subject), bursting with ideas and

insight, irritation with people who rationalize with them,

excessive spending of money, impaired decision making

(instances of people going to live on the streets), cynicism,

and paranoia. The mania will give way to severe depression,

in some cases, in a matter of hours. The examples of the

previous symptoms are demonstrated in Caulfield's

monologuos thoughts and dialogue. The instances of his

jumping from topic to topic, and his insight and ideas, have

already been discussed. Holden comments on his "little need

for sleep" often like after the clubs close he says, "I wasn't

sleepy or anything." A great amount of irritation is shown

toward Sally when she points out flaws in his plans of

running away. He becomes belligerent and tells her, "you

give me a royal pain in the a**." In the beginning he

comments on his abundant supply of money, but by the end

he is forced to borrow from his sister. He frequently pays for

peoples meals and drinks, donated money to nuns, and

offered anyone a drink "on him". A textbook example of his

impaired decision making was his plans to run away, pretend

to be mute, and build a cabin in the woods. His cynicism is

constant as he repeatedly generalizes everyone on the basis

of dress, status, and looks. The thoughts of always getting a

pukey cab and obscene words being everywhere are prime

cases of paranoia. Then in his swing to depression, he

comments on people making him depressed, his feelings of

being "lousy," and once expressed thoughts of suicide. When

he spoke of people coming to New York to get up early, he

voiced his wish to jump out of the hotel window. Holden

Caulfield, being afflicted with such handicaps, was doomed

to fail in school, and his breakdown inevitable. Living in a

time when clinical psychology would not come for a few

years, Holden was forced to cope with this on his own.

There was no one to go to for help, so his wish for it

manifested itself into the one thing he would like. So in his

subconscious wishes for control and help he said: "Anyway,

I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this

big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's

around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing

on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to

catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if

they're running and they don't look where their going I have

to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd

do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know

it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know

it's crazy." The children represent all of his problems running

rampid in his game of life that "old Spencer" told him of in

the beginning. The absence of "big" people portray no one

being in charge, and him the lone "big" person, express him

as being souly in control. The playing in the rye field next to

a crazy cliff would depict his nearness to his fall, while being

oblivious to the danger. His one wish is to able to prevent

this, to be in control. Then after establishing his wishes he

considers it impossible by expressing thoughts of it's

craziness. He is resolved that he cannot be in control, but it

is all he wants. In a world before alternatives to his painful

lifestyle, what can Holden do but blindly play the game in the

rye field, right beside his cliff of sanity. "But life is a game

boy. Life is a game that one must play by the rules."

Bibliography 3rd edition Psychology (Bernstein-Stewart,

Roy, Srull, & Wickens) Houghton Mifflin Company Boston,

Massachusetts 1994  

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