The Catcher inthe Rye is a novel whose protagonist is a 16 years old boy, Holden Caulfield, who is struggling to find his place in the world heâ€™s living in. A world he doesnâ€™t like butin which he has to live.
By the time he tells the story he is 17.
Holden , the first person narrator, represents in a certain way the figure of the adolescentthat finds himself uncomfortableand not accepted in the world heâ€™s living in, and who, as a consequence of that, tries to isolate himself from society and hides in a shell made of cynical comments and freakish behavior. Holden is a character of the 1950s but itâ€™s pretty obvious that this kind of adolescent, that rebels against society and mostly against the grownup world , existed before that and it exists also today.
A teenager can definitely relatetosome of Holdenâ€™sactions and struggles as being the desire for independence, the curiosity and yet fear for sexuality, the individual view of the world, the questioning abouthis religion, the language characterized by swearing and slang, the teenage pressures such as drinking and smoking.
Throughout the novel we can see several aspects of Holdenâ€™s life and personality . As it was said above, when talking he uses slang and profanity and he probably does it to distinguish himself from others and to rebel to society.During my evaluation, several aspects of the young boyâ€™s personality will be pointed out and better analyzed.
The story begins with Holden telling his story in a cynical voice, distant from his present life because he sees it as â€œ all that David Copperfield kind of crapâ€ and he prefers to talk about â€œthis madman stuffâ€ that happened to him the years before around Christmas.
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."
These expressions he uses suggest us that what happened in the past had a big impact upon his life and personality and the thing that he doesnâ€™t feel like talking about it underlines this aspect even more. From what he says in this passage,â€ and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had meâ€, his parents probably neglected him and this might be another reason for his anger against grownups.
We can see right away the type of language that Holden uses. For examplewhen he says: â€œ I was standing way the hell on top of Thomsen Hill, right next to this crazy cannonâ€¦You could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place. You couldn't see the grandstand too hot, â€¦scrawny and faggy on the Saxon Hall sideâ€¦â€
The underlined words are obvious examples of slang terms, which are used by Holden all through the novel.
The story is about our main characterâ€™slast day at Pencey Prep, with him telling how he stood on Thomsen hill watching the football game and preparingto leave the school, not only because the winter holiday was coming but also because he had flunked again. Flunking is quite normal for him since Pencey is the third school he was in because of that.
We can see right away that Holden is a lonesome person. He is not at the game with everyone else. He prefersto maintain the distance. At the same time he is trying to feel â€œsome king of a good-byeâ€ but he cants , and this thing really bothers him.
In the first two chapters we can notice another important aspect in Holdenâ€™s personality.
Despite the fact he had flunked history, he goes to say farewell to Mr. Spencer, his history teacher. Mr. Spencer has been kind with him and at first, Holdenseems torespond to this kindness. However, he feels uncomfortableat â€œold Spencerâ€™sâ€ house because of how his teacher presents himself and because of the unpleasant smell ofVicks syrup and medicines. Mr. Spencer was wearing his pajamas and had his hairless legs out. Holdendoesnâ€™t like sickness and ugliness and he sees them as destroyers of the outside worldâ€™s beauty and innocence. Further on we will better understand why.
Another important fact is that Holden always calls his teacher â€œSpencerâ€ or â€œOld Spencerâ€ and not even once Mr. Spencer. We can understand that he doesnâ€™t respect and like him as much as to call him â€œMr.â€
Spencerâ€™s behavior is motivated by his concern for Holdenâ€™s situation, but the last onetakes.