"Catcher In the Rye" by J.D. Salinger: Phoebe's Advice

Essay by foleyoHigh School, 10th gradeA+, October 2007

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In the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield is troubled and needs the help of someone close to him to stop his downward spiral. His troubles cloud his mind and make it difficult for him to succeed in school, and to operate in the real world. Many try to give him advice to make him realize the errors he is making so he can correct them before there are serious effects. His sister, Phoebe, really offers the contrast to Holden and his immaturity and unrealistic beliefs. She tries giving him the advice that would end the freefall he is in. Phoebe’s advice is the only possible solution to help Holden, and his acceptance or denial will ultimately decide his future, whether he knows it or not.

Phoebe is more mature than Holden, and she is six years younger than him. She understands that, despite what Holden thinks, growing up is necessary and inevitable.

Holden has Peter Pan mentality, in that he doesn’t want to grow up because he feels that adulthood corrupts the innocent minds of children. Phoebe tells Holden that he is just being ignorant and unrealistic, and that he has to grow up. She gets angry with him and tells him that he is too negative and that he doesn’t like anything. She tells him to say one thing he liked, and the only thing he can think of is Allie, and Phoebe reminds him that he is dead. Phoebe makes Holden realize that his negative, immature, and pessimistic views have caused him to hold on to only the memory of his brother and caused him to shut out everything else. Holden wishes to stay young so that he can feel closer to his brother.

Holden has realized how he has been secluding himself, rather than accepting others because of Phoebe’s advice to grow up, but he doesn’t accept the advice. Phoebe continues to pepper him with questions to help pull him out of his state of constant negativity, but he continually answers her by beating around the bush so he can avoid dealing with his problems. He knows deep down Phoebe is right because he is seriously trying to think of something he likes, but he can’t. He knows that his sister is trying to help, but he doesn’t want it because he is still clinging to the hope that he can stay young and help others stay children forever. His insecurities, exposed by Phoebe, lead him to shut himself out from Phoebe as well and now he is just about unapproachable by any that want to help himPhoebe tries to help Holden by telling him what he has done, and he denies the advice and help because he knows she is right. Holden wants her to be wrong, but he knows she is right. If Holden had just accepts the help, he would avoid the ultimate depression he falls into. Phoebe’s assessment of Holden was right on, but it doesn’t make a difference, despite the truth in it. Holden had created such a negative perspective of adulthood and such a grand perspective of childhood, which he doesn’t want to let go of. Phoebe knew what needed to be said, and she said it, but Holden wouldn’t listen, and his ignorance led to his downfall at the end of the story.

Holden had the chance to be stopped from plummeting to a miserable place, but he ignores the opportunities. Many people give him good advice, especially his sister, and he rejects it. His refusal to be saved from himself and his views causes him to end up in a mental institute. In the end, it was Holden’s childish mentality, which he clings to so dearly, that causes him to miss several chances to be rescued.

Bibliography:Catcher in The Rye(No Sources other than the book used)