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Catcher In the Rye - Alphabet Book

Mrs.Brenner's Honors English 9. May 2013.
by

Anika Sande

on 25 May 2013

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Transcript of Catcher In the Rye - Alphabet Book

E is for Ernie's Piano Bar Phoniness A is for American Museum of Natural History Growing Up The Phoniest City in the World Holden Caulfield's
Guide to New York City D is for Doorman Growing Up/Women and Sex B is for Broadway Phoniness “The best thing was, though, in the museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move….Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you’d be so much older or anything. It wouldn’t be that, exactly. You’d just be different that’s all" (Salinger 157-158). This quote represents Holden’s fear of growing up, because as he reminisces upon the multitude of childhood visits to the Museum he expresses his hate for change. Holden talks about how he was comforted by the way the exhibits, no matter how many times he saw them wouldn’t change even if everything else in the world had. Even if he or his life had changed he could always go back and look at the people and animals in the exhibit that were frozen in time. This shows how afraid Holden was of growing up, how afraid he was of changing and it represents Holden’s wish that he could be frozen in time just like the exhibits, that he would never have to change or grow up at all. “I didn’t much want to see it, but I knew old Sally, the queen of the phonies, would start drooling all over the place when I told her I had tickets for that, because the Lunts were in it and all. She liked shows that are supposed to be very sophisticated and dry and all, with the Lunts and all. I don’t. I don’t like any shows very much, if you want to know the real truth"(Salinger 152). In the 1940’s the Lunts, a famous Broadway couple were all the rage, they directed and acted together in countless Broadway productions. But Holden didn’t enjoy the Lunt’s quite as much as the typical New Yorker did, in fact Holden hated the Lunts. He thought it was all very phony, the way that the actors had to act out the story. He thought that either an actor was no good at all, or if an actor was good his ego ruined it. He also thought it was phony the way the shows were supposed to be uber-sophisticated when in reality they were just a bunch of phony theatrics that everybody pretended to love and be moved by. Holden just thought Broadway and the Lunts were a phony ordeal. “I was a little nervous. I was starting to feel pretty sexy and all, but I was a little nervous anyway. If you want to know the truth, I’m a virgin. I really am. I’ve had quite a few opportunities to loose my virginity and all but I’ve never go around to it yet…the thing is, most of the time when you’re coming pretty close to ding it with a girl- a girl that isn’t a prostitute or anything, I mean- she keeps telling you to stop. The trouble with me is, I stop. Most guys don’t. I cant help it" (Salinger 120). Holden, although a self acclaimed sex maniac becomes quite nervous after ordering a prostitute to his hotel room after being offered one by the doorman. It is undeniable that Holden is fascinated by the opposite sex, he seems to temporarily fall in love with any woman he talks too and of course like the average 17 year old is giddy to have sexual relationships. But Holden is no sex maniac-he is in fact a virgin. Holden’s nervousness and hesitation to actually have sex also represents the part of Holden which is still very innocent and scared of growing up. It seems that he lacks the courage to have sex because to him it represents the shedding of childhood and no matter how much he believes he wants to have sex, he is unable to carry out the deed because he doesn’t want to grow up. “You should’ve heard the crowd, though, when he was finished. You would’ve puked. They went mad. They were exactly the same morons that laugh like hyenas in the movies at stuff that isn’t funny. I swear to God, if I were a piano player or an actor or something and all those dopes though I was terrific, I’d hate it. I wouldn’t even want them to clap for me" (Salinger 110). Holden’s experience at Ernie’s Piano Bar yields yet another example of his dislike of pop culture. Holden, although he admitted that Ernie wasn’t too bad at the piano thought that the crowd made it phony. Holden believes that the way people went wild for Ernie ruined his talent, and thus made his performance phony. F is for Fifth Avenue “I kept walking and walking up Fifth Avenue without any tie or anything. The all of a sudden, something very spooky started happening. Every time I came to the end of a block and stepped off the goddamn curb, I had this feeling that’d I’d never get to the other side of the street…Every time I’d get to the end of a block I’d make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I’d say to him, “Allie, don’t let me disappear. Please Allie.” And then when I’d reach the other side of the street without disappearing, I’d thank him"(Salinger 257). As Holden is walking down Fifth Avenue he begins to have an anxiety attack brought on by his state of depression and loneliness. The quote represents the motif of depression because it shows the cause and effect of his depression. The underlying cause it appears is his brother Allies death, as it seems to be the root of all his problems. And the effect of Allie’s death which has contributed to his depression and led him to separate himself from others as well as bringing on a panic attack. G is for Grand Central Station “I started wondering if maybe I should’ve go my bags and gone back to his house, the way I’d said I would. I mean I started thinking that even if he was a flit he certainly’d been very nice to be. I thought how he hadn’t minded it when I’d called him up so late, and how he’d told me to come right over if I felt like it. And how he went to all that trouble giving me that advice about finding out the size of your mind and all" (Salinger, 253). After fleeing from the Antolini’s apartment in fear of Mr.Antolini being flity, Holden sits in the waiting room at Grand Central Station until morning. As he sits he begins to wonder whether or not he should’ve run away from Mr.Antolini. In this there is a sense that Holden self-alienates himself from everybody, even the people who have opened up and tried to help him. Mr.Antolini who had opened his house to him in the middle of the night, who tried to help Holden turn his life around, he had run away from. Holden’s actions represent his way of alienating himself from anybody who cares or tries to help him and the depression and loneliness which is a result of it. I is for Ice Skating “I said no, there wouldn’t be marvelous places to go to after I went to college, and all. Open your ears. It’d be entirely different. We’d have to go downstairs in elevators with suitcases and stuff. We’d have to phone up everybody and tell ‘em good-bye and send ‘em postcards from hotels and all. And I’d be working in some office, making a lot of dough, and riding to work in cabs and Madison Avenue buses, and reading newspapers and playing bridge all the time, and going to the movies and seeing a lot of stupid shorts and coming attractions and newsreels…It wouldn’t be the same at all. You don’t see what I mean at all"(Salinger 172-73). After seeing the Lunt’s on Broadway, Holden and Sally go ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza, and Holden brings forward the idea of running away together. Of course Sally thinks he is completely crazy. The motif of is represented growing up in this passage after Sally suggests that they be together after college and Holden refuses it is evident that Holden doesn’t simply want to move away or be with Sally, the reason he wants to run away is to escape the inevitable event of growing up. Holden doesn’t want to grow up and have to work 9-5 and do all the phony grown up things he wants to live on his own terms not have to follow the path of growing up. L is for Lavender Room “She was really good. All you had to do was touch her. And when she turned around her pretty little butt twitched so nice and all. She knocked me out. I mean it. I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not that much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can"(Salinger 95). This quote shows how infatuated Holden is with women. When he first met the ladies in the Lavender Room he didn’t think much of their looks and he thought their personalities were rather dry but even though he thought they were lousy and phony he kind of in a way fell in love with the one of them. This lends itself to two motifs, more obviously that of women and sex because it deals with his desire for intimate relations with females. But this also lends itself to show how desperate Holden is to have anybody who cares about him, he may believe he “falls in love” with a woman that he doesn’t actually like at all simply because he is so desperately in need of a relationship and he wants to escape his loneliness. Growing Up Depression Alienation Women and Sex R is for Radio City Phoniness “Then, after him, they had this Christmas thing they have at Radio City every year. All these angels start coming out of the boxes and everywhere, guys carrying crucifixes and stuff all over the place, and the whole bunch of them – thousands of them – singing “Come All Ye Faithful!” like mad. Big deal. It’s supposed to be religious as hell, I know, and very pretty and all, but I can’t see anything religious or pretty, for God’s sake, about a bunch of actors carrying crucifixes all over the stage" (Salinger 178). After his date with Sally had gone sour, Holden went and saw a show at Radio City strictly for the purpose of passing time until his next date with Carl Luce. Holden had seen it before thought the show was entirely phony, which made sense because he later tells how Sally, “the queen of phonies”, had adored it when they saw it together last year. Holden didn’t quite get what you were supposed to get out of the performance, it was supposed to be magical and beautiful but all he got was how phony the performance was. S is for Shopping Growing Up “The Christmas before last I took her downtown shopping with me. We had a helluva time. I think it was in Bloomingdale’s. We went in the shoe department and we pretended she – old Phoebe – wanted to get a new pair of those very high storm shoes, the kind that have about a million holes to lace up. We had the poor salesmen guy going crazy" (Salinger, 256). Shopping is a vital pastime of any real New Yorker, clearly some take it more seriously than others. For Holden and Phoebe shopping was just a way to pass the time and get a few giggles out of it too. This passage represents how much fun Holden had just messing around with Phoebe and it seems yet another reason Holden is afraid of growing up is because he would no longer be able to just mess around, he would have to grow up and quit having real fun and he would become phony and have to take things like shopping seriously just like the rest of the grown-ups. T is for Taxi Growing up “ “You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know by any chance?” I realized it was only once chance in a million" (Salinger 78). The taxi cab, Holden’s chosen mode of transportation throughout New York City. Holden’s cab rides are brief, but the question about the Central Park lagoon ducks always seems to come up, and although the cab drivers don’t lend to much help to the question it is clear that there is more to the ducks than what appears. To Holden, the ducks represent the childhood of any person. And symbolically the ducks flying away in the winter represents the loss of innocence, the loss of childhood. Holden asks the question where the ducks go in the winter, but what he really seems to be asking is where does innocence go and why it must go away. This question although it is never answered within the pages of the book shows Holden’s desperation in trying to not grow up. P is for Phone booth “I went into this phone booth. I felt like giving somebody a buzz. I left my bags right outside the booth so that I could watch them, but as soon as I was inside, I couldn't think of anybody to call up. My brother D.B. was in Hollywood. My kid sister Phoebe goes to bed around nine o'clock – so I couldn’t call her up…So I ended up not calling anybody. I came out of the booth, after twenty minutes or so"(Salinger 77-78) Before cell phones, there were phone booths, they were the only way you could “give someone a buzz” if you were out and about in the 1940’s. This quote shows how Holden self-alienates himself from people because he is afraid of rejection. He thinks of many people he could call while he’s in the phone booth but he makes excuses for himself and talks his way out of calling up anybody. He is afraid that whoever he calls won’t want to talk to him, so he ends up avoiding that fear and not calling anybody which thus makes himself lonely and alienated all by his own doing. U is for Upper East Side Growing Up “I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody bit, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day"(Salinger 224-225). Holden visits his sister Phoebe in his childhood home on the Upper East Side. During his brief late night visit with her they discuss all sorts of things. Perhaps the most notable subject was that about Holden’s peculiar desire to be the “Catcher in the Rye”. As he describes the job to Phoebe in the above quote, he provides a connection about how he feels about growing up. Being the Catcher in the Rye, would be the job of saving children from falling of the cliff into the adult world, the description of Holden’s dream job is really Holden’s desperate desire of keeping children from becoming adults. V is for Street Vendor Depression/Alienation "My hunting hat really gave me quite a lot of protection, in a way, but I got soaked anyway. I didn't care, though. I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt so happy, if you want to know the truth. I don't know why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could've been there"(Salinger 275). Since the beginning of the book Holden had worn his red hunting hat, which provided a sort of comfort and shelter for him. He had bought the hat from a street vender, commonplace on the New York City streets, upon the fencing teams trip to New York. Many times throughout the book Holden wears the hat, in attempt to escape his sadness and depression. But at the end of the novel as he watches Phoebe on the carousel while it rains the above quote depicts how the hunting hat had given him protection from the rain, symbolic for his depression and his self-inflicted loneliness. He says he “got soaked anyway” he hadn’t been protected from the rain or his depression but it had given him a tool he could use to overcome his depression and self-alienation. Y is for Yankee Stadium “My brother Allie had this left-handed fielder’s mitt. He was left-handed. The thing that was descriptive about it, though, was that he had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere. In green ink. He wrote them on it so that he’d have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up at bat. He’s dead now. He got leukemia and died when we were up in Maine, on July 18, 1946. You’d have liked him"(Salinger 49). Yankee Stadium, the home of the New York Yankees baseball team. As depicted in the quote above, Holden’s younger brother Allie had played baseball. Allie, Holden’s brother 2 years his minor had died young. Although Holden seldom talks directly about Allies death it is evident in this passage and throughout the Novel that his death was traumatic for Holden and caused a great deal of anxiety and depression. Holden speaks praises about Allie’s character and wonderful qualities, and how much he enjoyed Allies presence. Throughout the book there are many instances in which Holden seems to distance himself from relationships with other people, this may be a result of Allies death because Holden was so damaged by loosing Allie and fears becoming close to another person who he could also loose. From Holden’s memories of Allie such as the one above it can be inferred that Allie’s death, may have in large part contributed to Holden’s self distancing from other people as well as Holden’s depression and grim outlook upon life. Z is for Zoo “I went up and sort of stood behind her and sort of put my hands on her shoulders, but she bent her knees and slid out from me – she can certainly be very snotty when she wants to. She kept standing there while the sea lions were getting fed and I stood right behind her. I didn’t put my hands on her shoulders again or anything because if I had she really would’ve beat it on me. Kids are funny. You have to watch what you’re doing"(Salinger 271). Depression/Alienation Growing Up One of Holden’s last destinations on his trip through New York, he finds himself in the zoo with Phoebe trying to appease her after they got into a fight. In their brief stop at the zoo the motif of growing up is shown. Holden hates the idea of growing up because he thinks it drags children into a world of phoniness, but from this passage there is another reason demonstrated. It seems Holden enjoys Phoebe’s sassiness and cleverness as she ignores him. He is amused by her childish actions and I think he enjoys Phoebe’s childish naivety as opposed to the phony way adults act when they are mad. Alienation X is for X-rated Women and Sex “I don’t feel very much like myself tonight. I’ve had a rough night. Honest to God. I’ll pay you and all, but do you mind very much if we don’t do it? Do you mind very much?” The trouble was, I just didn’t want to do it. I felt more depressed than sexy, if you want to know the truth. She was depressing. Her green dress hanging in the closet and all” (Salinger 125). Leave it to Holden to order a prostitute, than change his mind about having sex. Throughout the book Holden makes himself out to be a “sex maniac”, like he’s just dying to have sex but when the opportunity is there he ends up throwing it away. It seems, as it should, that sex is a lot more complicated than what it appears and although Holden often talks about physical attraction towards women in general he never seems to be in quite the right mood. This quote fits the Women and Sex motif because it shows how Holden deals with the actual opportunity to have sex with a woman, it shows that Holden no matter how badly he wants to just isn’t ready to have intimate relations with any woman which is an interesting trait for a man of his age. W is for Wicker Bar “If you sat around there long enough and heard all the phonies applauding and all, you got to hate everybody in the world, I swear you did. Ite bartender was a louse unless you were a big shot or a celebrity or something. If you were a big shot or a celebrity or something, then he was even more nauseating. He’d go up to you and say with this big charming smile, like he was a helluva swell guy if you know him,…It was a terrible place, I’m not kidding I cut out going there entirely, gradually” (Salinger 185). This quote represents the motif of phoniness because Holden expresses the particular reasons why he thinks the bartender is phony. Holden finds it phony that the bartender is only interested in somebody who’s a big shot, not just to any guy sitting at the bar. But what Holden finds most phony about this guy is the way he treats a person if he is a celebrity. Most people in general are like that towards others though, they’ll give more attention to somebody who is or seems important and it shows how and why Holden finds most people so phony. Phoniness N is for New York City “It's everything. I hate living in New York and all. Taxicabs, and Madison Avenue buses, with the drivers and all always yelling at you to get out at the rear door, and being introduced to phony guys that call the Lunts angels, and going up and down in elevators when you just want to go outside, and guys fitting your pants all the time at Brooks, and people always–"(Salinger 169). New York City had been a part of Holden since he was born, it was his play ground as he grew up but he had outgrown the city and he felt trapped within a world of phoniness which depressed him. Holden doesn’t seem to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city, he sees the city as a place filled with phony people all trying to grow up too fast. To Holden, the only thing he wants to do is escape New York, escape the phony fast paced life, the Broadway lights, and his pain filled past. And the only way to do that is to leave the City. Phoniness H is for Hotel “The trouble was, that kind of junk is sort of fascinating to watch, even if you don’t want it to be. For instance, she was pretty good-looking. I mean that’s my big trouble. In my mind, I’m probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw. Sometimes I can think of very crumby stuff I wouldn’t mind doing if the opportunity came up…The thing is, though, I don’t like the idea. It stinks,. If you analyze it. I think if you don’t really like a girl, you shouldn’t horse around with her at all” (Salinger 81). This quote shows the motif of Women and Sex because it shows how Holden feels about women and when sexual stuff is appropriate while he is watching a couple through a window in the Edmont Hotel. Holden almost seems picky in his description of when he feels it would be right to have sex with a girl. It seems Holden wishes he would be able to do “crumby” stuff with a girl he didn’t even like but he makes it quite clear that he would never actually do that because it wouldn’t feel right. Holden wants to have a relationship before he has sex with a women but the way he won’t open up to anybody to allow a relationship to grow completely ruins his ideals which is why this quote also shows the motif of Alienation. Women and Sex/Alienation C is for Central Park Q is for Quickly J is for Jump “So Stabile, with about six other dirty bastards, went down to James Castle’s room and went in and locked the goddamn door and tried to make him take back what he said, but he wouldn’t do it. So they started in on him. I won’t even tell you what they did to him – it’s too repulsive – but he still wouldn’t take it back, old James Castle. And you should’ve seen him. He was a skinny little weak-looking guy, with wrists about as big as pencils. Finally, what he did, instead of taking back what he said, he jumped out of the window” (Salinger 221). Approximately every fifteen days somebody attempts suicide by jumping off the famous Brooklyn Bridge which connects Brooklyn to Manhattan, what could ever lead somebody to take their own life is horrific to say the least and as in the above quote James Castle felt that jumping out of the Elkton Hill dorm window. This event clearly had a deep underlying effect upon Holden. As Holden reflects upon the event and the aftermath his disgust with the boys who did it and the lack of discipline they received (no criminal charges). It is evident that this event, the people who caused it lead in great deal to his general disgust with the horrendous deeds society is able to carry out and we see how it has led to his depression and furthermore his self-alienation because of his sheer disgust with the ill actions of society. Depression/Alienation “Broadway was mobbed and messy. It was Sunday, and only about twelve o’clock, but it was mobbed anyway. Everybody was on their way to the movies – the Paramount or the Astor or the Strand or the Capitol or one of those crazy places. Everybody was all dressed up, because it was Sunday, and that made it worse. But the worst part was that you could tell they all wanted to go to the movies. I couldn’t stand looking at them” (Salinger 150-151). New York is known as the “City that never sleeps” and New Yorkers are no different, most people who live in New York personify the hustle and bustle of the city life and as shown in the paragraph above choose to embrace it even on their day off. Holden is obviously quite the contrary and on many accounts it is clear that Holden does not appreciate the hustle and bustle of city life. This quote correlates to both the motifs of alienation and phoniness, because it seems from this paragraph that the phoniness of the people Holden is reflecting upon. Holden expresses that it depressed him how people were so eager to be out and about all dressed up and seeing a movie and it seems that he alienates himself from society in the way that he doesn’t fit in. He wouldn’t ever choose to go to see a movie he would only ever go in order to pass the time. Holden alienates himself from society as a whole by not embracing what he finds phony such as the movies. Alienation/Phoniness “I’ve lived in New York all my life, and I know Central Park like the back of my hand, because I used to rollerskate there all the time and ride my bike when I was a kid, but I had the most terrific trouble finding that lagoon that night. I knew right where it was – but I still couldn’t find it…...Then finally I found it…... But I didn’t see any ducks around” (Salinger 200). After getting drunk at the Wicker Bar Holden finds himself wandering into Central Park, and more specifically the lagoon searching for the ducks. He talks about how Central Park served as a sort of playground for him when he was growing up he is also searching for a symbolic sing of youth, the ducks. Of course he doesn’t find the ducks because it is winter and the ducks had flown away. I see an interesting link between depression and growing up in this passage because during his drunk wandering he is beginning to have a panic attack and naturally he begins to wonder about the ducks a symbol of childhood and where they were. To me this scene is more than a drunk wandering throughout Central Park but rather it is the turning point in which Holden discovers that he has lost his youth – that the ducks were no longer there. Growing Up/Depression K is for Klienfelds “Here’s my idea. How would you like to get the hell out of here? … We’ll stay in these cabin camps and stuff like that till the dough runs out. Then, when the dough runs out, I could get a job somewhere and we could live somewhere with a brook and all and, later on. We could get married or something…Wuddaya say? C’mon! Wuddaya say? Will you do it with me? Please!” (Salinger 171). Klienfeld’s Bridal is a world renowned bridal boutique located in Manhatten, a place that Holden would probably consider “phony as hell”. Holden’s rash idea which he presents to Sally about running away and getting married relates to both the motifs of growing up and alienation. The passage above shows the motif of growing up because in his plea for Sally to run away with him, it seems he is not simply just running away but rather he is running away from having to grow up. It also represents alienation because from Holden’s point of view it appears that alienating himself from New York City will stop the process of growing up. This quote offers a unique perspective on why Holden alienates himself from society, perhaps it is because he feels that in doing so he will be able to escape growing up. Growing Up/Alienation M is for Museum of Art “I was the only one left in the tomb then. I sort of liked it, in a way. It was so nice and peaceful. Then, all of a sudden, you’d never guess what I saw on the wall. Another “Fuck you.” It was written with a red crayon or something, right under the glass part of the wall, under the stones. That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any” (Salinger 264). While passing the time waiting for Phoebe to meet him to say his last goodbye before he leaves Holden explores the Museum of Art. While there he wanders into the exhibit of ancient mummy’s tomb and discovers profanity written on the walls. This makes Holden extremely upset, his reaction can be connected to two motifs of the story. The first, Growing Up, it seems to upset Holden because he thinks of when a young child were to see this it would demonstrate a loss of innocence. It makes Holden mad that somebody would want to corrupt a naive child in that way. It also demonstrates an explanation as to why Holden tries so hard to alienate himself because he tells how impossible it is to find a peaceful place. All Holden wants is to find his peace, alone and away from the city. It seems that Holden wants to alienate himself from society so he can be peaceful and unaffected by other people’s actions. O is for Out of City “Here’s my idea. How would you like to get the hell out of here? Here’s my idea. I know this guy down in Greenwich Village that we can borrow his car of a couple of weeks… What we could do is, tomorrow morning we could drive up to Massachusetts and Vermont, and all around there, see. It’s beautiful as hell up there. It really is” (Salinger 171). This quote represents alienation because Holden is trying to convince Sally to run away with him. Holden desperately wants to escape the city, the place where he grows up. To him leaving the city would symbolize escaping growing up and the phony people, he wants to leave so that he can be on his own without having to deal with other people in the city, he wants to alienate himself and the only way to do that is to get out of the city. Alienation/ Growing Up Growing Up/Alienation
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