Catcher In The Rye

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Salinger uses the conflict between Slagle and Holden to suggest that class differences separate people. Religion, like money, is what separates people. Dick Slagle roomed with Holden while attending Elkton Hills. Slagle had inexpensive suitcases unlike Holden's Gladstone's. Slagle hid his suitcases under his bed, so that way they would not be sitting next to Holden's, and also so people might think that the Gladstone's were his. When Holden became aware of this, he put his under his bed as well, but then later on, Slagle moved Holden's suitcases back on the rack.

The suitcases reveal traits about both boys. It shows that there are three sides to everyone. Because Slagle wanted social status, he was divided. On one hand he wanted to be Holden, on the other hand, he put down Holden. Slagle was concerned with how people would view him, and as a result, he hid his suitcases and put Holden's back on the rack.

All because of money, Slagle felt inadequate and worried that he was inferior, and not as good as Holden. Although, because Slagle was jealous, he then felt it was necessary to put Holden down. He wants people to think that he is wealthy because he is concerned about social status. "He was always saying snotty things about them, my suitcases, for instance. He kept saying they were too mew and bourgeois"(108). Slagle did not respect higher social status, so he instead made fun of Holden.

Holden also had conflicting sides within him. There was a side to Holden that cared about values and people. He cared about ideals, morals, and whether or not people are true and authentic. The other side of Holden always described people as being phony, and disliking the world. Social status also mattered to Holden as well. He liked Stradlater better than Slagle, because Stradlater was equal to Holden. "It's one of the reasons why I roomed with a stupid bastard like Stradlater. At least his suitcases were as good as mine"(109). Stradlater never worried, he was in love with himself, and most of all, he was already wealthy.

In the middle of the novel, Holden ranted about a terrible movie he saw. "It was so putrid I couldn't take my eyes off it"(138). He was so fascinated by the movie because of how gross it was. The movie was about some sappy, fiction story with a happy ending. In the movie, everyone in the story was poorer compared to the duke, even though the girl he met was middle class. In the end, everyone winds up with someone no matter what his or her social status is, and it is a happy ending. Even the Great Dane found a mate and had babies, which was foreshadowing that everyone else would have children as well. This was ironic that Holden talked about this movie because in his mind, everyone compared to him, was poorer, except for those of the same status. Holden was like the duke, Stradlater like Marcia, and Slagle was like the girl. Only, Holden and Slagle did not get along, and therefore did not have a happy ending unlike the movie.