The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Essay by rainiemeimeiHigh School, 11th gradeA+, June 2009

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Most teens that are growing up today often wonder about the many complexities of life, and what lies ahead of them. Many of them fear the future and their insecurities. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, profoundly presents the various themes and ideas touching upon prevalent aspects of a typical teenager’s life. As a teen myself, I can relate very well with the protagonist in this story, Holden Caulfield. In this classic, Holden undergoes his insecurities, self-destruction, hypocrisy, alienation, and insanity.

Holden Caulfield is a cynical boy who looks down upon himself due to his insecurities. He is expelled for his academic failure, and claims that he abhors Pencey Prep. Caulfield is a pessimistic character, who views the world around him as “ugly.” He constantly complains about how he despises his surroundings’ hypocrisy, and purposely alienates himself from these people. His alienation soon becomes an inevitable habit that prevents him from having true relationships with others.

Sometimes, though, he wishes he had more connections with other people. Holden hates one of his roommates, Stradlater, who dates Jane Gallagher, a girl that means a lot to Holden. His insecurities lead him to think that Stradlater might have had sexual relations with Jane. Despite all the hate for the world, Holden is very affectionate toward his sister, Phoebe. He shares his experiences with her and sees her as a trustworthy ‘someone’ who is always there for her. Because she is still young and innocent, Holden feels that she will not criticize him the way schoolmates do. When Phoebe asks him what he wants to be when he is older, he reflects upon what would suit him best: the ‘catcher in the rye.’ Holden’s insecurities make him a violent person who goes insane. He claims to not understand the fundamentals of sex and intimacy, and gets desperate for a prostitute. His bipolar eventually leads to his ultimate collapse in the end.

As a teen myself, I am able to connect the main ideas of the book to reality. This classic bluntly, but accurately presents a typical teen’s life. Just like Holden, I am often a pessimistic girl who always expects the worse. I fear failure at school and doing worse than a friend. I am afraid of rejection from the world, but sometimes, I feel that I can’t do anything to avoid that, which leads to my alienation. My insecurities drive me to be jealous of others, and never satisfied with myself. Although I am not physically violent like Holden, I feel evil emotions, and still manage to maintain my pride. Similar to Holden, I view the world as full of hypocrisy, even though I find myself to be a hypocrite, too. Like Holden and many other teens out there, I sometimes feel unaccepted and lonely, which eventually eats me up on the inside.

There are some aspects of Holden’s lifestyle that does not relate completely to me, but the ideas are still apparent in other teens’ lives that I know of. Because of the diversity among my friends, I was able to pick out some similarities of Holden and my friends as I read. Overall, this book has really opened my eyes to realize not only that I am not alone, but also that there are other people out there who are more miserable than I am. Although I may encounter times of insanity, insecurities, loneliness, and pessimism, I am reminded that I am blessed, and that I should always treasure what I have and make the best of it.

BibliographySalinger, J.D.. The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 1980. Print.