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Catcher in the Rye

By: Laura Yenchesky, Robinson Creighton, and Brennan Gregg
by

L Yenchesky

on 14 January 2013

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Transcript of Catcher in the Rye

Holden is a sixteen-year-old boy who has flunked out of numerous boarding schools throughout New York. When he gets kicked out of Pencey Prep, he has an inner crisis of where he belongs. Holden does not want to stay at Pencey but does not want to go home and face his family. Stage 1 Holden gains knowledge, optimism, and a positive outlook on his future, even though he is not certain he will succeed with his plans. At the conclusion of the book, Holden reveals to the readers that his plan is to attend a new boarding school in the fall, but is unsure if that is really what he is going to do and whether he will follow through on all of his intentions. Stage 2 Stage 3 a prezi by Laura, Robinson, and Brennan Symbols Symbols Symbols Conclusions Connections to the real world Themes “A lot of people… [keep] asking me if I’m going to apply myself when I go back to school next September. It’s such a stupid question, in my opinion. I mean how do you know what you’re going to do before you do it? The answer is, you don’t. I think I am, but how do I know?” (213) In terms of fitting in the scheme of the world, Holden does not have a specific role defined for him, but he plans to try and find one, such as in a new school. Even though everything may not work out in his favor, Holden will try as he realizes that he must find himself. Holden finally recognizes that he had human companionship, but did not accept it when it was originally presented to him. Characters such as Stradlater and Ackley may have seemed annoying or phony at the time, but reflecting on his past, Holden discovers the value of what he had. Holden expresses, “about all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start to miss him,” (214). Upon returning to his literal home, Holden creates a new vision of the house he has known forever. In this vision he cares for his family and embraces spending time with them, all while not running away. The new knowledge of ways to go about life is shared to D.B., his brother, and the readers through Holden’s final remarks. Holden is able to share this information as a result of his reflection on how he chooses to live his life. Holden recognizes several mentors-figures that have been trying to help him throughout the course of the book. Yet, Holden never realizes until the end that they all impact him tremendously. Mr. Spencer teaches Holden to put effort into life, even at the worst times. Both Stradlater and Ackley, Holden's acquaintances from Pencey, teach him the value of a human connection. Carl Luce gives Holden a perspective of his inner self. Mr. Antolini exemplifies what it means to be accepting and having relationships that provide guidance in times of need, while Phoebe provides insight on home, individuality, and avoiding problems. Allie’s mitt represents the memories Holden has that will never fade. Remembering his brother forces Holden to show the reader his emotional and compassionate side, even at times when he is depressed. The Museum of Natural History brings Holden back to the time of his childhood when he did not have to worry about his future. The museum has remained untouched as new generations of children come through for school field trips, yet Holden is a changed person that now views everything differently as he revisits his childhood. Many people in today's world struggle from depression and it is through the people they are with that they get better. This parallels Holden's situation in which the only way he recovers is returning home and being with his family. The readers can recognize the impact of spending time with family members and should take advantage of every moment they have with them. Sadly, many individuals in our society have passed away due to childhood cancer. While we are making progress in curing this disease, Allie reminds the readers of remembering the struggles others have gone through and appreciating the memories they have provided. Even in the world today, we still must use Holden's actions as an example to understand how we can honor those who have died. Holden has a hard time accepting those that he considers 'phonies'. In today's world, many people struggle to include people from other cultures or religions because their actions are wrongly perceived as different than the status quo. At the end, when Holden has his realizations, the readers also comprehend the importance of including everyone. Seeking a human connection The struggles of maturity and growing up Protecting the changing innocence between childhood and adulthood One should decide what they want from life, instead of criticizing the ways others choose to live their own. Holden shares his viewpoint by explaining, "lawyers are all right, I guess...if they go around saving innocent guys' lives all the time, but you don't do that kind of stuff if you're a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars...Even if you did go around saving guys' lives and all, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys' lives, or because what you really wanted to do was to be a terrific lawyer...How would you know you weren't being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn't," (172). Clearly, Holden does not agree with his current lifestyle in which people only do things for others for money. Many people do not understand the moral values of helping others for the greater good instead of for a material reward. Struggling to realize this, Holden points out others' flaws because he feels it will boost his self-esteem and lead him to the life he wants to live. This idea reappears constantly throughout the novel, conveying the theme of selflessness for its own sake through criticizing others' weaknesses. As Holden wanders the streets of New York City, he searches for companionship and a person to guide him. He calls many old friends while seeking this connection, including Sally, Jane, and Carl Luce. Through this, Holden just ends up getting more depressed because he is unable to relate to them since they have all matured. Yet, upon returning home, Holden realizes the value of having friends and family by his side. Holden has a flashback to his childhood when he sees an innocent girl putting her ice-skates on. Remembering the happiness and the innocence of being young, he wishes he could return to his youth. He struggles to comprehend that childhood cannot last forever and the responsibilities of maturity are a part of life. When Holden sneaks back home to see Phoebe, he describes his dream job: catching happy children about to fall over a 'cliff' in a field of rye. This shows his desires to help and save people from losing their innocence and 'falling off the cliff' into adulthood. Holden wants the children to continue playing and enjoying life instead of having the pressures of being an adult, something he feels they should not have to experience. I Frustrated with his situation, Holden narrates, “all of a sudden, I decided what I’d really do, I’d get the hell out of Pencey-right that same night and all…I just didn’t want to hang around anymore. It made me feel sad and lonesome…I decided I'd take a room in a hotel in New York,” (51). Pencey is seen as his home to the readers because it is the normal surroundings and school environment he is used to. However, he does not believe he needs Pencey to define himself so he chooses to leave the school. It is a decision Holden makes to escape himself and his problems in school rather than to discover himself. Holden is acquainted with a mentor throughout his first stage, but the advice is misunderstood and taken for granted. Mr. Spencer, Holden's history teacher, invites Holden over to his house so he can talk to Holden about his release from Pencey. Mr. Spencer gives Holden a lecture asking many questions about his plans for the future, attitude on school, and effort in life. Holden describes to the readers,“But I just couldn’t hang around there any longer, the way we were on opposite sides of the pole… I said ‘I’ll be all right. I’m just going through a phase right now.’” (15). Holden does not appreciate Mr. Spencer’s advice and ignores him throughout the lecture, wishing he could leave. At this point in the novel, Holden does not understand his mentor's motives and denies his internal struggles. Holden buys this unusual red hunting hat when the fencing team goes to New York for a meet. The hat symbolizes his hidden identity he is afraid to show others. Holden wears this hat whenever he feels insecure about his surroundings or himself because the hat makes him awkwardly stand out. It becomes an object of security and comfort in his time of loneliness. In the beginning of the novel, Holden describes his brother that died of Leukemia, Allie, who had this baseball mitt with poems written all over so he would not get bored in the outfield. This mitt symbolizes the memory of his brother who faced struggles and creates this inspiration or admiration in Holden for his brother. When he recollects about the mitt, it is a moment of youth and happy memories of his childhood. While in his dorm room, Holden also reflects on these expensive pair of ice skates his mother had gotten him, but he has never used. The ice skates symbolize that his childhood is over and that carefree life he remembers is gone. Holden endures the second stage of his search for self journey when he experiences the wilderness. The first part of the wilderness is Holden’s inner wilderness, which consists of his literal wandering and figurative unrest. During Holden’s literal wandering, he roams around New York City, trying to stay occupied and in contact with people. He is unsure of where to stay during the night, being alone and independent. Additionally, Holden does not know what to do during the time before he goes to his parents, resulting in him walking aimlessly around New York. Holden is trying to delay when he has to return home and reveal the news that he was kicked out of Pencey. As a result of his meandering, Holden winds up spending most of his time visiting different bars and getting drunk. After checking into the Edmont Hotel, Holden thinks, “…all of a sudden I felt like getting the hell out of the place. It was too depressing. And I wasn’t tired or anything. …I also took a look out the window to see if all the perverts were still in action, but the lights and all were out now. I went down in the elevator again and got a cab and told the driver to take me down to Ernie’s. Ernie’s is this night club…” (80). Holden’s actions show his literal wandering in the way he leaves the Lavender Room, a nightclub in the Edmont Hotel, to go to Ernie’s nightclub. He struggles to be on his own and his meandering is continued to be shown when the people he observes through his hotel room window have all gone to bed, while he is still awake. Clearly, Holden is different and without knowing his true self, cannot settle down and act like other mature people. Experiencing this figurative unrest, he feels confused and lonely on the inside. Additionally, he struggles to cope with the future anger his parents will express towards him when he returns home. Holden struggles to comprehend his own future after being kicked out of so many schools. As a result of Holden’s figurative uneasiness, he calls a few people in a struggle of what to do. For example, Holden calls Faith Cavendish, a friend of his friend Eddie Birdsell, looking for a good time and something to do. Holden’s inner unrest manifests itself as he calls people, looking for companionship in desperation. Holden experiences many tests and tribulations including tests of maturity, impulse, human interactions, and purpose in life. Holden has numerous tests of maturity, as he struggles to overcome youth. In many situations, Holden fails to gain the trust and respect of others because he has not grown up. In order to change and find his true identity, Holden must overcome this immaturity. A prime example of this tribulation is when Holden is in the Lavender Room. He meets a group of three women, and asks to dance with them. He manages to dance, but they leave, snickering at his youth. Additionally, Holden tries to order alcohol, but is denied of this drink because he looks and acts too young. Holden wants the privileges of being an adult, but cannot achieve this because of his persona. Holden also endures tests of his impulse, attempting to mature and not make rash decisions. When he meets a man, Maurice, in the elevator, Maurice offers a prostitute to Holden. Holden rashly chooses to purchase the prostitute for a short period of time. However, when the prostitute, Sunny, finally arrives, Holden reconsiders his actions and later withdraws his purchase by letting her leave. Once again, Holden has failed the test. Another type of tribulation Holden endures is the test of human interactions. This relates to Holden’s maturity and social behaviors. Holden constantly finds trouble when trying to talk and relate to people. He wants to have companionship, but hates many of the people around him, calling them phonies. Holden goes to a local bar to meet with an old teacher, Carl Luce, seeking a friend and guidance through his wandering. He drinks the time away in his loneliness, and observes a singer. Holden narrates, “she’d sing some dopey song, half in English and half in French, and drive all the phonies in the place mad with joy. If you sat around there long enough and heard all the phonies applauding and all, you got to hate everybody in the world,” (142). Holden mocks the imperfections of the singer, and the phony people who watch. He finds difficulty when seeking a friend because of his loneliness. Holden also believes it is necessary to call people phonies and to point out their flaws, only to boost his own self-esteem and make himself more confident. Holden wants to balance having a true friend with his ego, but is unable to because of his immaturity. Holden's final test is for his purpose in life. Holden decides to sneek home in the middle of the night to visit Phoebe, his little sister, who questions him about what he actually enjoys in life. Holden remarks that the only thing he can picture himself doing is being a catcher in the rye. Holden’s lack of success in each of his tests leads to a future realization. Although Holden does not succeed in any of his tribulations, he still manages to move on to the third stage of his search for self journey. The failure Holden experiences takes him to an emotional low, where he is open to the greatest change. Holden’s mentors reappear in each stage, and this time, they arrive in the form of Carl Luce, Phoebe, and Mr. Antolini. Luce acts as a mentor for Holden because he tells Holden of how immature he truly is. Luce attempts to give Holden a perspective of how far Luce has made it in life compared to the low life Holden is living. When Holden stays at Mr. Antolini's home, he guides Holden by giving him companionship when it is needed. Also, Mr. Antolini tells Holden that he will have to work to succeed in his future. Phoebe also acts as a mentor when she does not want Holden to leave and returns the red hunting hat to Holden at the museum. She tries to make him realize that his home is really right beside him, he can never lose his individuality, and that he cannot run away from his problems. However, Holden disregards all of the mentors' advice and fails to understand their attempted influence on him. The ducks are an important symbol for Holden in the second stage. Multiple times, when Holden is in a taxicab, he passes the same pond, but the ducks that usually inhabit the area are missing. However, the drivers usually disregard Holden’s curiosity in where the ducks go for the winter. The ducks represent the simple hopes, wishes, and curiosities in life. They also help convey Holden’s youth and separate the image of an immature Holden with the adult images of the taxicab drivers. Holden comes across a little girl about to go ice-skating and, while tying her ice-skate laces, he asks her if she knows where Phoebe is. This represents remembering youth, as Holden wishes to go back to the time of childhood. Also, Holden ice-skates with his old friend Sally, only to go on a rampage and hurt Sally’s feelings. The meaning of ice-skating changes from a youthful representation, to the acceptance of adulthood. When with Sally, Holden experiences the pain of adulthood and maturity. Holden’s red hunting hat is a symbol of his individuality that he truly has no escape from because he will always be Holden Caulfield. Because of this, the hat forces Holden to own up to his personality and stand up for his traits. At the end, Holden thinks, "a lot of people...[keep] asking me if I'm going to apply myself when I go back to school next September. It's such a stupid questions, in my opinion. I mean how do you know what you're going to do before you do it? The answer is, you don't. I think I am, but how do I know?" (213). Holden's perceived purpose in life shows his immaturity and lack of growth into an adult. He wants to save others from losing their innocence. Holden has not yet come to realize that adulthood is a part of growing up and that youth cannot last forever. Holden does not succeed in his test to find his purpose in life, as he does not see the value of maturity or growth. Allie’s mitt symbolizes more for Holden when he is in his wilderness. Holden recalls memories with his childhood friend, Jane, and he remembers that Jane was the only person outside of his family that he told about Allie’s mitt. Holden recalls the strength of Allie, making the mitt represent his admiration and respect for Allie. Additionally, the mitt symbolizes youth and the hardships in life. Holden needs to learn from Allie and face his own struggles. When looking for Phoebe, the little girl who was ice-skating directs Holden to a museum he used to visit all the time with Phoebe. The museum symbolizes the reflection on childhood and the remembrance of youth. Also, when looking at the Indian figures in the museum, he reflects upon how the figures are unchanging and are the same as they were 10 years ago. For Holden, the museum symbolizes his wish for the world and youth to be unchanging, and for maturity to never exist. Insight into author's intended theme can be gained when readers learn the outside knowledge that J.D. Salinger, the author, was kicked out of Ursinus College. Just like the protaginist of this novel, Salinger struggled with his academics and had to learn to find himself throughout the course of his life. Eventually, he found his passion of writing and used his characters to portray the message of what others should learn when searching for their identity through the hardships he faced growing up. Holden expresses what he wants to do when he narrates, “you know that song ‘If a body catch a body comin’ though the rye’… I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all… Nobody’s around-nobody big, 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…that’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be,” (173). a prezi by Laura, Robinson, and Brennan Stradlater and Ackley , while they may not have the most compassion for Holden, also play the role of a mentor for him. Even though Holden does not enjoy being around them, they provide Holden with an example of a human connection, something that will prove very valuable later on. Both Stradlater and Ackley tell Holden stories of their sexual experiences that will help him in the future, only to leave Holden misunderstanding them. Holden is wondering and confused because he cannot relate to their experiences, as he has not advanced that far himself.
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