Catcher In The Rye: The Struggles of a Teenage Boy
The famous American novel Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger, tells the story of the problems Holden Caulfield, a troubled teenager, faces on the journey from childhood to adulthood. After getting expelled from Pencey, the boarding school he attends, he goes on a three day adventure in New York City to avoid his parents and the reality his situation. On his adventure, he finds that the adult world is filled with phoniness, a phrase he uses throughout the book to describe hypocrisy, shallowness, and pretension, and he is disgusted by it. Throughout the book Holden feels alienated from the world and feels desperate to hold onto his innocence, all of these problems create a large impact on Holden. He struggles to find beauty in anything and speaks very negatively throughout the entire book. In the book Holden has a negative perception of other people and places so he can protect himself from his own problems.
In the beginning of the book, Holden talks about his roommate, Stradlater, and his dorm neighbor, Ackley. He compares and contrasts Stradlater and Ackley, describing
Stradlater as popular, handsome, charming, and a secret slob, and describing Ackley as lonely, rude, has a disgusting appearance, and is outwardly a slob. He says of
Ackley, "I never even once saw him brush his teeth. They always looked mossy and awful...Besides that, he had a lot of pimples...all over his whole face.” Ackley's annoying habits and appearance leave him in isolation, but protect him from the pain interaction
and intimacy might bring him. Ackley's situation is very similar to Holden's, what he needs and fears most is both intimacy and interaction.
In the book, Holden speaks of his hatred and distaste for theaters and the movie world. He finds the movies phony because they do not paint reality for how it really is, and that the actors in the movies are so good at acting that they seem boastful and arrogant, so he can no longer appreciate their talent. Holden's brother, D.B., is a writer who moved to Hollywood to write screenplays, which Holden is not happy about. Holden believes that D.B. is wasting his talent in Hollywood, that the only reason D.B. writes screenplays is for the fame and fortune, not because he loves to do it. Holden finds his brother a phony for this action. It is very important to Holden to be real and honest, and to not have phony qualities. We see again in this chapter Holden focusing his negative lens on other people and things rather than his own problems with himself.
When Holden finds that he has no where to go, he calls an old professor he used to have at Pencey, Mr. Antolini, to stay at his home for the night. He is one of the few people Holden speaks of in a kind way, describing him as the best teacher he ever had.
Holden recalls when one of the boys at Pencey jumped out of his window to avoid bullies that came into his room. He remembers that Mr. Antolini was the only person who went and picked him up and ran him all the way to the infirmary, while everyone else just stood and gawked at the sight. When Holden gets to their home, he realizes that Mr. Antolini has had a few drinks. They make a bed for him on their couch. Holden is extremely alarmed when he wakes up to find Mr. Antolini