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Catcher in the Rye: Dying to be a Martyr

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Alec Rossi

on 28 March 2014

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Transcript of Catcher in the Rye: Dying to be a Martyr

"Listen, What's the routine on joining a monastery?, I asked him. I was sort of toying with the idea of joining one." (7.50)
The Nuns
"If you want to know the truth, the guy I like best in the bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times as much as the disciples, that poor bastard (14.99)
Mr. Antolini
"I don't want to scare you, he said, but I can very clearly see you dying nobly, one way or another for some highly unworthy cause" (24.188)
"They let me give them ten bucks as a contribution. They kept asking me if I could afford it and all. I told them I had quite a bit of money with me, but they didn't seem to believe me." (15.110)

Catcher in the Rye:
to be a Martyr

James Castle
James Castle is in an argument, with Phil Stable after expressing his opinion. Phil orders him to take back what he said, but James refuses. Phil and his friends do unspeakable things to him, but he stand by his view eventually dying (by suicide) for his opinion. (22.170)
"Anyway, I kept picturing all these little kids, and 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 if they start to go over the cliff..That's all I'd do all day. (22.173)
"I like Jesus and all, but I don't care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible. ....They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting Him down. (14.99)

"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one" (24.188)
"All right, What do they do, the fish and all, when that whole little lake's a solid block of ice, people skating on it and all" (12.82)

"I mean I felt sorrier when old Mercutio got killed than when Romeo and Juliet were killed" (15.111).
Jesus is the ultimate martyr and Holden admires this. Jesus died for the sins of all people, and Holden almost feels he should die or be devoted to the responsibility of keeping children innocent. Holden loves Jesus even though he sees the institution of region phony and conducive of creating barriers.
Does Holden have a Martyr Complex?
The martyr complex is defined as follows: The martyr is one who employs self-sacrifice and victimization as a way of avoiding to take responsibility for their life. They are prepared, however, to take responsibility for everyone else's life.
Holden gives the nuns $10, willingly but hates to give away $10 to the prostitute even when getting threatened by Maurice. Holden views these people as pure and honorable and makes a sacrifice for them.
Holden wants to sacrifice living his own life and facing his responsibilities to focus on others. Perhaps, he sees this choice as a way to assuage his guilt over Allie's death.
Holden looks up to the guy putting physical pain on himself because of a demon inside of him. Perhaps, Holden sees this as a potential way to fight his own internal demons (death of Allie, loss of children's innocence, getting kicked out of Pencey, etc.).
Holden may want to devote his life to god and only focus on religion. He wants to give up marriage, and a real life to become pure. Holden may feel he needs to do this to be "unphony" or to not feel guilty.
Holden is intrigued by the fish as they are forced to confront their hardships (ice) and face their responsibilities. Holden seems to flee from situations and people when it becomes difficult. Perhaps, Holden aspires to be more like the fish.
My thoughts:
Holden is willing to give up his life for one of not marring, forever sitting in a rye field and even potentially dying to assuage his guilt. He refuses to confront his own responsibilities of maturing and making a life for himself instead focusing on the life of Allie and young children. Holden is in a stage of denial.
Mr. Antolini
Even Mr. Antolini, can see Holden going down a bad path. He imagines Holden dying for something pointless. Mr. Antolini knows Holden well and this observation sheds light on Holden's potential actions.
In Romeo and Juliet Mercutio died a martyr. He fought Tybalt in Romeo's place as he would have died. He knew the immense love between Juliet and Romeo and died for it. Holden appreciates how Mercuito died for a strong belief. Holden
perhaps wants to emulate this
but for a totally different cause.
Does Holden wanting to be a martyr for a cause make him mature or immature? Holden imagines suicide frequently; and, death would bring him closer to Allie, so perhaps wants to die. This would make him immature. If Holden lived he still would have to confront his demons.
Before this Holden tells of how he admired and wanted to be like James. Holden liked that James died nobly (in his eyes) for a cause. This made him unphony. Holden may see the appeal of escaping responsibilities like James did.
Holden's Guilt & Responsibilities
Holden feels guilty about the death of Allie and the loss of children's innocence. He abandons his own responsibilities and focuses on this guilt and duty of his.
When Holden realizes Sunny is a child he feels guilt and sadness. He was on he verge of taking her innocence away again. He also feels bad that this child has to revert to something so adult-like to live. Holden feels like his had to take responsibility and do something. He does this partially by refusing to have sex with her.
"I just didn't want to do it. I felt more depressed than sexy, if you want to know the truth.
was depressing". (13.96)
"The salesman probably thought she was a regular girl when she bought it. It made me feel sad as hell". (13.96)
When talking about his funeral Holden states: "The only good thing, I knew they wouldn't let old Phoebe come to my goddam funeral because she was only a little kid". (22.155)
""Anyway, I kept picturing all these little kids, and 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 if they start to go over the cliff..That's all I'd do all day. (22.173)
Holden feels like he needs to save children from adulthood and the bad things in the world. He dreams of being able to do this. He takes comfort int he fact that Phoebe's innocence will be preserved at his funeral. He would be guilty if this would not be the case.
Holden almost feels like he should have died instead of Allie. Holden frequently goes into depth about Allie's positive attributes, none of which he possess. Throughout, the story Holden goes over seemingly trivial events (not letting Allie ride his bike, etc.) but feels guilty about them.

Holden also feels guilty that he will disappoint his parents as he is not as good as Allie. He states: " She (his mom) hasn’t felt to healthy since my brother Allie died. She’s very nervous. That’s another reason why I hated like hell for her to know I got the ax again”. (15.107) Holden feels guilty about his actions and feels that if Allie were still around this wouldn't have happened. Holden feels like he needed to fill Allie's role but did not.
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