Holding Onto The Past

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Holding onto the Past The novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger shows how people try and look into the past to move forward. They look into past happy memories for comfort and relief in order to feel better. This however makes it harder to accept the changes in life. If your mind is in the past your reality is in the past while your physical self is in the present, which prevents you from accepting changes around you in the present. J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, he shows that dwelling in the past prevents maturing and accepting changes in life, because of character, holding onto past memories, and symbols.

Holden's character shows immaturity. He is very critical and judgmental about people so that's shows his mind is still like a little child. In especially the early chapters in the book Holden describes his peers in a negative way.

For example when Holden introduced Ackley, the person living next door to him, he described him in such a matter that we were turned off by Ackley. ""¦I never even once saw him brush his teeth"¦always looked mossy and awful"¦made you sick"¦"(Pg. 19) Again this shows us that Holden is immature by judging a person from his physical appearance rather then looking into his personality. All these negative feelings towards other people have also taken an effect on Holden. By having negative feelings to almost everything like Ackley, Pency school, he became very depressed himself ""¦That depressed me"¦"(pg. 52) He also then becomes lonely since he cannot relate to anyone. Holden then thinks of happy memories from the past. The memories create a wall between Holden and reality. By thinking of these memories it blocks him from realizing the reality in the present which is that he is depressed and lonely and needs to change his ways of relating to other people. Holden Morris 2 also seems to find faults in other people as I briefly mention earlier. Like with Stradlater ""¦Stradlater was more of a secret snob"¦" (Pg. 27) By this he cannot relate to anyone therefore is very lonely. This prevents him from having real friends among his peers. This makes him very depressed and as before he always seeks to the past to get comfort, which creates a wall, which prevents him from realizing that the problem isn't other people but him, therefore he fails to accept that he has to change. The results of all these negative feelings are that Holden gets depressed and lonely as I said before. This made Holden in need of companionship ""¦The first thing I did"¦I went into this phone booth. I felt like giving somebody a buzz"¦" (Pg. 59) He calls up people mostly girls such as Sally but Sally just blew him off therefore grows more depressed and seeks into the past memories again to look for comfort.

Holden holds onto past memories. Every time Holden feels depressed or lonely he seeks to past memories of either Jane or Allie. These were the happier times in his life. When Holden felt lonely and depressed during Stradlater's date with Jane. He began to think of Jane and how happy they were together. These memories manipulate him into think that everyone is changing for the worse whereas the fact is it is Holden who just hasn't grown up, yet he fails to realize that which prevents him from accepting that Jane and other people have simply grown up and have changed. Holden also tends to think of Allie a lot when he is depressed, ""¦I started talking, sort of out loud, to Allie. I do that sometimes when I get very depressed"¦" (Pg. 98) Every time Holden thinks of Allie he has a problem. When Holden said the quote about talking to Allie out loud sometimes a stranger had just beaten him up. This proves that he does seek comfort from his past memories of his happier life. Memories of Allie were really good. He expressed this by how passionate he was about Allie's baseball mitt. These memories however make Holden feel that there is nothing that he could or there is nothing wrong therefore he runs from the problem instead of facing reality. This showed a childlike way of handling the Morris 3 problem therefore revealing that these memories prevented Holden from accepting changes especially with himself and from reaching maturity.

Symbols that Holden held onto shows that he couldn't let go of the past. Allies mitt is one of the objects, which Holden held onto. This shows he couldn't leave the past. When Holden looks at the mitt it reminds him of Allie ""¦My brother Allie"¦He's dead now"¦You'd have liked him"¦Allie's mitt"¦" As I said before the memories of Allie were happy and positive so he cannot let go of it which shows his mind is still in the past. The past is were he wants to be. Also the museum also appealed to Holden because in the museum nothing changes. This shows us that he is very uncomfortable in the area of change therefore contribute to the fact that he cannot accept change.

Holden holds onto the past, which prevents him from maturing and accepting changes. This affected Holden by making him depressed and lonely. This paper is very important because it shows how people and how they can't let go of the past which prevents them from moving forward in life. By doing this they have to face reality. It shows the consequences if you don't. Holden showed all this by his character, his memories of Jane and Allie and how he could never leave them behind and how that affected him.