Catcher In The Rye
Context and Analysis
Catcher in the Rye is a story of a young boy, Holden Caulfield's coming of age. It takes place at a time when he has been kicked out of 4 schools for failing to 'apply' himself. After being kicked out of his latest school he decides to take a 'vacation' before finally returning home to face his parents' imminent and inevitable wrath.
Holden Caulfield in a way personifies teenage angst and dilemma. He does not wish to become an adult in the sense that he does not want to work and earn money and live a phony existence but, he does want to become an adult to drink, smoke and get "laid". For Holden the concept of adulthood is a very narrow perception of the society of which he is a sworn critique. Holden fears maturity and he must overcome this fear to be a responsible member of the society.
Holden sees the world and all people as either 'phony' or pure. He is convinced of the fact that the world's biggest problem is its 'phoniness' and that now it is so full of phonies that he is disgusted to be a member of it (the society). For Holden, the only pure person in the world are Jane, Allie, Phoebe and the two nuns that he met at the station. Everyone else he meets has atleast some traits of 'phoniness' in them. He is shattered by the very thought that a terrible phony like Stradlater could have 'made out' with the only girl that he had ever liked and probably loved, Jane Gallagher. He fights with Stradlater over this and ends up with a bloodied nose. This fight and humiliation is the 'last straw that breaks the camel's back' and Holden decides...