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catcher in the Rye Themes
Transcript of catcher in the Rye Themes
Suicide is a major theme due to the fact that Holden always thinks about just ending his life because he sees no purpose in his own life & feels himself going crazy everyday. The author as well is making a connection towards teenagers as how they think nobody understands them & they feel like their lives are out of control.
"What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide."
Personally myself I cannot relate to this theme. I am a typical teenager & feel alone sometimes. My life is not perfect but it is not the worst, I am loved & cared for with support to give myself a bright future.
Sexual confusion acts as another theme in the novel due to Holdens way of understanding himself & young ladies. Holden does want to have sex he is like a typical teenage boy who has desires for the opposite gender. But when given the chance he does not go through with it. For Holden when the girls say "No" Holden stops whether they mean it or not. In other words "No" means "No" to him. He has a lot of respect for girls but he feels that he should wait for the right person. Somebody he loves & knows, someone who is willing to stay with him, and to help him with his issues. Holden does not see that in any of the girls that want to proceed in having sex with him. For example Sunny the prostitute he pays for a throw with her but ends up just wanting to talk to her. He feels sorry for her & sees she is nervous that she does not like what her life style is.
"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, and if you do like her, then you're supposed to like her face, and if you like her face, you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff to it, like squirting water all over it."
Death is another theme in this novel. It plays a big part throughout the book because Holden always goes back & thinks about his deceased younger brother Allie. He loves his brother & when he feels alone he likes to think about the memories they had. He always has his brothers old baseball mitt where he wrote little poems to read while in the outfield in his games. Holden talks to him & acts as if Allie is with him & protecting him when he gets into trouble ring his three days out in New York. For example when he was walking down a few blocks he was still drunk a bit from the night before he kept getting the feeling he was going to fall when he reached the next block. When he got close he asked Allie to help him make it & when Holden did make it across the block he thanked his Brother. Holden does not like the idea of death & being buried in a cemetery. He was thinking about how at Allies funeral it began to rain & how he could just see everybody running away to their cars & going out to dinner. He thought of that of how they could just easily leave & go out but Allie can't. Allie is in the ground with the rest of the dead people. He can't just get up & go out anymore his life has finished.
"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."
Innocence is a theme by the way Holden thinks of Jane Gallagher & his little sister Phoebe. He doesn't see Jane as a girl growing up & changing or maturing. Holden still sees her as the girl he used to play checkers with, putting all her kings in the back row. He doesn't want to know what her drunken step father does to her or what happened one her date with his old roommate Stradlater. Holden feels the same toward Phoebe she's growing up & he doesn't want her to. for example how he referred that he will become "the catcher in the rye" where he would take care care of all the little kids where they would be able to run around in a field of rye. There that field would be near a cliff. If a kid gets to close to the edge Holden will be there to catch them. Even though he knows they must go & take risks even knowing the dangers.
"I thought it was 'If a body catch a body,'" I said. "Anyway, 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 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 – I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. "
Holden's fear of growing up creates a new major theme in the novel. He fears that the older he gets, the fear change increases. Holden is failing out of school & he has no idea where his life is going. He is afraid of just growing up & becoming a more mature man. Just like the statues in the museum he wants everything around him to be the same. Holden is afraid since he criticizes everyone it will come back & get him in the future. The older he gets & and the more mature he becomes Holden stays hesitant about his own life. He does not see himself finishing school or finding a good job. He just wants to be young & keep the people around him the same as they are. The fear of growing up haunts him & he can't help but just think about killing himself but does not. He'd rather end it than live on & see what happens.
"I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am – I really do – but people never notice it. People never notice anything."
Throughout the novel Holden's parents are not really present to help him at all. They just want him to stay out of trouble at school. When he does they don't spend the time to help figure out the reason why he gets kicked out all they do is ship him off to another school. At his school he does not find any teacher or adult that he can actually talk about his feelings with or have a connection with. Adults to Holden are just disappointments. They don't help him they just control him or get rid of him so they could let others worry about him. He sees them in a disgusted way as well. For example when he went to visit his old history teacher from Pencey before Holden left. While the old man was talking to Holden just stared at his old wrinkly body & how he moved & acted. It made him uncomfortable & even more afraid of growing old.
"For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life. "
Holden is used to being by himself throughout the novel. His attempts to connect to people in the novel always has an end due to his rude attitude towards them. He is always talking about being alone & having nobody but he pushes them away. Like his date with Sally Hayes or his meet up with Carl Luce. Holden kept pushing their buttons of pushing them away & they end up leaving having a bitter taste of Holden in their mouth. He was being to rude them & pushing both away so they couldn't get the opportunity to do it to him first. The same reason why he did not want to call Jane Gallagher he didn't want to give her the power to reject him on the phone so avoiding to call her kept her from doing that to him so in a sense he was 'protecting' himself.
"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody. "
Holden refers to everybody as 'phony'. He thinks everyone is fake & a liar. He sees how they act & knows that's not how they think. Everyone just wants to fit in this phony world. But Holden himself throughout the novel has come out as phony like the ones he claims. Holden lies to people & has no reason to, he agrees to the statements or anything he thinks is wrong, goes out with ladies that he does not even like & forces himself to find a way to like them, & goes out to avoid fighting himself instead of stepping up & getting help for his problems.
"Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules."
"Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it."
"Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right—I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game."
Catcher in the Rye Themes
I can relate to this because death is a natural part of life you can't predict when it's going to happen or how. All we can do is just appreciate the people that we have & the time we get with them. Nobody knows the true value of someone until they're really gone. it has happened to me & everyone else.
Growing up is a scary process, taking on responsibilities so I can see why Holden feels the way he does.
Lack of Authority Figures
Loneliness to me is a normal form of feelings. Everybody in their lives have moments of loneliness due to life experiences or having nobody around & taking on the world alone. My relation is having important people leave but it's not just the person leaving but also our connection.
For me I can relate to Holden. Yes I admit I judge people & disagree with them but what person doesn't. It's part of human nature to make others look lower than yourself even though you're a mess as well. Everybody lies & if they say they haven't that's a lie.
Depression is Holden's main struggle in the novel. His battle with it leads him into danger. Such as drowning his sorrows with alcohol & thinking about ending his own life. He has no direction in life & has no support from his family. But he does have people who love him & see him as an important person. For example his little sister Phoebe is always excited to see him & always worries about him & where he goes. But the love of his sister doesn't keep the horrors of the outside world away from him. Which drives him to his breaking point of losing his mind. This mental state is what leads him to the mental institute.
"What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse."