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Holden Caulfield: The Monomyth Archaetype

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Mila Menna

on 14 January 2014

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Transcript of Holden Caulfield: The Monomyth Archaetype

Holden Caulfield: The Monomyth Archaetype
"We must let go of the life we have planned, as to accept the ones we have waiting for us." - Joseph Campbell
In J.D Salingers novel "The Catcher in the Rye", heroism is shown through the attempt to preserve innocence in a corrupt society, while Salinger also shows us the admirability of accepting that this loss is an inevitable aspect of life.
Transition from the rank of person to God. This can be persuaded through the shift of a character's appearance. When an individual physically dies
The Call to Adventure
The hero starts in a dull situation where they gain knowledge that lead them to taking off into unknown adventures. The task provides a challenge, inner desire, and goal to accomplish.
The call to adventure leaves the hero to be hesitant in the sense that they do not want to journey out of his/her comfort zone because of: what might happen to them, they may not view the call as important, have responsibilities, don’t want to distance from family members.
Refusal of the Call
Wise advice from an individual is given to benefit the hero and make the challenges in their quest easier to face. An object or piece of information is delivered to the hero directly or indirectly by the supernatural force. They act like a companion or a group that offers assistance along the hero's journey but can't act as the hero to achieve the final objective.
Supernatural Aid
The crossing of the threshold is the point in which the ventures off into his/her journey, leaving the past comforts behind. There is no turning back.

The hero hurries home with the treasure that has been gained in the Ultimate Boon. Running from enemy forces perhaps because of the tokens already lost along the way.

Rescue from Without

Holden wants to stay in the place where this source of enlightenment was found within the Ultimate Boon. The protagonist is so excited that “real life” seems unappealing.
After facing many troubling situation, the hero finally achieves the object of his mission (usually follows a battle with the worst villain or extremely difficult task). The hero is now able to accept the gifts. Generally the climactic moment of the story, when tensions start to be resolved
Last challenge is faced at this time before returning home. Finally achieving a place associated with comfort.

The hero is finally able to choose which ever form of life he deems fit for himself after vanquishing the demons facing him.

The hero completes the journey, allowing him to be a master of the unknown and common worlds (innocence and maturity) and can accept both without further problems.
There must be a reconciliation between the hero and a "father figure" in his life.
Protagonist comes in contact with a fiery temptress female that offers him temporary relief or gratification, but by choosing to accept this desire the hero would fail that mission and thus prove to be an unworthy hero.

While facing trials, the hero comes in contact with a female goddess that shares something in common with the protagonist. Can be supernatural or just an ordinary person that helps the hero gain energy and guidance.
Adventure will be given to the hero in the near future. The tasks face will help the hero gain confidence and capabilities as each gets increasingly harder. The hero gains allies, knowledge, and experience as the trials continue.
The hero enters the zone of danger. This may start immediately after the first threshold or may require some travel. It is a time of reflection and rebirth for the hero.
The Crossing of the First Threshold
Belly of the Whale
The Road of Trials
Through the use of the monomyth, Salinger expresses the heroism of attempting to preserve innocence in the midst of a chaotic society, while also conveying the admirability of one accepting the futility of the cause.
Allie is the Supernatural character
Special object given to Holden was Allie's baseball mitt
Left-handed mitt emphasizes uniqueness and conforming behaviour society pressures upon the innocent
Green pen writing is used to convey nature and jealousy
The fact that it's used for catching is parralel to Holden's dream of being a catcher in the rye
The Meeting with the Goddess
Woman as Temptress
Atonement with the Father
The Ultimate Boon
Hero tempted by material desires
Sunny is a representation of the forces that tempt Holden to finally let go of the innocence he tries to hold on to
He overcomes this, tries to see innocence in her
"She had a tiny little wheeny-whiny voice... She never said thank you either. She just didn't know any better."
Sally Hayes is a physical distraction from his quest; she has lost her innocence.

Seek for hope and assurance from a female figure who helps hero endure crisis
Pheobe assists and comforts him when he comes to their house, she also lends him money
Pheobe takes Holden's hat and puts it on his head
He says "it damned near killed me", metaphorically
Watches Pheobe on the carrosel, leading to his epiphany
Contrary to Cambell's monomyth, Holden doesn't refuse the return call, is quite content to return
""You really aren't going away anywhere?" Are you really going home afterwards?" She asked me. "Yeah." I said. I meant it, too."
This shows we are meant to admire Holdens resolve and acceptance
Lack of refusal emphasizes that once he accepts the inevitable, he can 'move on'.
Refusal of the Return
The Magic Flight
His journey which makes him very ill due to exposure to cold and wet weather
"I could probably tell you what I did after I went home, and how I got sick and all "(213)
- Talks to physcoanalyist about the prospects of applying himself
Holden finds balance between accepting responsibilities as an adult and his own beliefs
This acceptance is meant to be admired, as well as his effort to change -"...I
I am." (213)
No longer resists "self annihilation", allows change to occur loss of innocence)
Through psychological disciplines, he sheds his personal limits
Rain is a symbol of his 'rebirth' and subsequent 'mastery'.
-For Holden, his 'crossing' is when he decides to leave Pencey and travel to New York
-New York represents the unknown, shown through darkness
"I like riding on trains, especially at night, with the lights on and the windows so
." (53)
-Falling foreshadows loss of innocence
"...I damn near broke my crazy neck." (52)
-Guardian is Stradlater, Holden challenges, but does not defeat him
"If you don't keep your yap shut, I'm gonna-""Why should I?"(44)
Master of Two Worlds
The hero is rescued from a final plight from an unexpected source, that may be a God or someone the hero doesn't know
-Holden refuses the call because he is afraids of losing himself during maturation
-he says he "feels like I'm disappearing" whenever he crosses the road
The Crossing of the Return Threshold
Joseph Campbell: Author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, defined the monomyth

Monomyth: The archetypal journey the hero undergoes; According to Campbell:
"A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man."
-Holden feels inadiquate
"game my ass...If you get on the side where all the hot shots are, then it's a game...on the other side...then what's a game about it.Nothing. No game"(8)
-game is unfair
Refusal of the call continued
Different events may occur to push the hero into their quest, in
Catcher in the Rye
, Holden experiences one major event that results in him setting out on his journey. A possible event could be one that gives the hero no choice than to leave their current life and set out to find their true purpose;
Holden failing out of Pencey.
Freedom to Live
Holden is consumed by his judgmental tendencies; unable to connect with others.

-Holden acts childishly in response to stradlater's reaction to his paper
-chooses to irritate him
"I did it to annoy Stradlater. It drove him crazy when you broke any rules"(41)
-moment with phoebe on the carrousel
During Holden's arceatypical journey, there are parallels and contradictions, according to Joseph Campbell's Monomyth layout, that Salinger uses to convey the idea of a hero being someone who is able to accept the fact that they cannot be victorious every time, but still learn a valuable lesson just as Holden did in
Catcher in the Rye.
“Allie had this left hander’s field’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’s have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up to bat." (32)
Holden physically running away from internal problems.
Finds profanity and attempts to save any children that are at risk of reading it.

Holden is more realistic on his opinion of himelf.
Accepts and acknowledges faults.
Understands not to interfere with natural process of growing up
-holden wants to avoid growing up completely there
-"I couldn't've sat there another ten minutes to save my life" (15)
Road of Trials
"why the hell don't you shutup when I tell ya to?"(45)
-like an adul talkin down t a child
"I was so mad I was practically bawling"(45)
-lkea child havig a tantrum
- “I got old Jane stuck on my mind again.” (40)
- “Boy, I nearly dropped
when he said that.... I damn near dropped dead.” (14)
- “I ought to go down to her and say hello to her or something” (40)
- Jane Gallegher is the goddess
Road of Trials
Holden fails oppurtunity to let go with prositute
"sexy was about the last thing I was feeling" (95)
-still wants to protect her innocence
"Don't you feel like talking for a while"(95)
- "Boy, it began to rain like a bastard. In
, I swear to God." (275)

this one psychoanalyst...keeps asking me if I'm going to apply myself ...I think I am"(213)
-Holden has a physcoanalyist to help him learn to apply himself
-They share in the struggle to remain innocent
- Jane being a common name conveys that all members of society follow the same process of transitioning from innocence to experience
-All aspects of the texts lead up to Holden's epiphany that losing innnocence is inevitable
- Rain shows a purifying transformation within Holden
-Reflects on past and how he misses it
- "I sort of
everbody." (277)
- Last challenge he must face is if he will be able to learn from past experiences and move forward or not
By: Riley, Caprice, Mila, and Samantha
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