Catcher In The Rye Reflection

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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Catcher in the Rye chapters 1-18 Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger has intrigued me. I love the way the author writes. It is like Holden is talking right to me, telling me all the things that have happened to him. Salinger does leave a little to my imagination. I am always guessing what Holden is really feeling or thinking. Holden's outlook and perspective on life are displayed on each page and I can hardly ever put the book down. There are many aspects of this book that I truly enjoy.

The complex character of Holden Caulfield is what I love the most about this book. He is very unpredictable and spontaneous. I never know what he is going to do next. He is truly a free spirit with a lot of troubles weighing him down. He has an interesting take on life. Salinger begins the book with Holden telling his audience that he is away from home resting.

So the entire time I have been reading Catcher in the Rye I have been looking for clues to Holden's mental illness.

Holden has many different personalities. He is compassionate, rebellious, creative, insightful and caring. His emotions are so strong at times that it gets him into trouble. He can not process his strong emotions productively in society. Holden's character and all of his insights have kept me very interested.

Another aspect of this book I find interesting is Holden's use of the word phony. He uses it constantly. The reason that he does this is because he admired his deceased younger brother Allie so much. He compares everyone and everything he encounters to this little boy's sincerity and compassion. Holden thinks everyone is phony because he does not see Allie's traits in them. Allie is Holden's role model because he was so innocent and loving to people. I think Holden envies Allie in a way, and wishes he could be more like he was. So Holden's overuse of the word phony is due to his basis of comparison, his sweet, timid, caring, genuine brother Allie.

The setting of this book really adds a lot of vigor to the story. The streets of New York that Holden describes almost feel real. The seedy motels that he stays in are depicted wonderfully. Salinger is very descriptive. I enjoy reading about all the people Holden encounters in his adventures. Every character has such a unique and individual personality. Holden describes every scene right down to the color of the carpet. I love being able to picture where he is and what he is doing. The descriptiveness and detail in this book really adds to the excitement and enjoyment I feel when I read it.

One thing that I found that related to my own life was Holden's take on private schools and cliques. Holden explains to Sally Hayes all of the different cliques at the private prep schools he has attended. Holden did not feel that he belonged to any certain clique or group. This saddened him and made him feel like an outsider. I can relate to this feeling. Many teens feel that they do not fit into the cool clique or group. Everyone yearns for a sense of belonging just like Holden. He also said all the people he went to school with were phony. That is also the way I feel at times. This was one opinion Holden expressed that I agreed with strongly.

A frustrating topic in this book is Jane Gallagher. Holden knew her as a child and is still in love with her. He always attempts to call her, but never follows through. I just want him to call her! He keeps putting it off because he says he does not feel in the mood. I think he is just scared of being rejected by someone that he truly cares for. At this point in the story he has a perfect image of her. He has kind and happy memories of Jane, but if he calls her things may be different. His image of her might be ruined. He puts off calling her because he wants to preserve the perfect picture he has of his childhood friend.

Holden is very caring. Quite a few times in the story he has been very compassionate and thoughtful towards others. He donated money to the nuns he saw in a restaurant, bought his sister Phoebe a record, tied a little girls skate for her and worried intensely about the safety of Jane Gallagher while she was on a date with Stradlater. He is a very compassionate person.

Throughout this book Holden Caulfield and his story have amazed me. I love the setting, the people and the way Holden describes the events in his life. I can hardly ever put this book down and I am very excited to finish it.