Essay about Salinger's Catcher in the Rye

Submitted By ian_peein
Words: 714
Pages: 3

In many ways, Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, is immature and an unreliable narrator. He is depressing, childish, judgmental, dishonest about himself and others, and even a foul-mouth. On paper, Holden seems like an all-around unlikable person, and some readers find it hard to care at all for him. But despite his cynical, rebellious nature, many readers and characters in the book empathize with and even like Holden. Having flunked out of four schools, Holden has never been willing to put effort into his academics. Although he does not do well in school, some of his former teachers are fond of him and even build friendships with him. For example, Mr. Spencer, a history teacher at Pencey Prep, Holden’s most recent school, asks Holden to visit him. Mr. Spencer, knowing Holden has failed out of school, is very sympathetic toward him and is concerned about his future. Holden tells the reader, “Well, you could see he felt pretty lousy about flunking me” (12). Also, after Holden says that he doesn’t have much concern for his own future, Mr. Spencer tells him, “You will. You will, boy. You will when it’s too late…I’m trying to help you. I’m trying to help you, if I can” (14). Another of Holden’s former teachers, Mr. Antolini, who Holden says was his favorite teacher, feels for him. Mr. Antolini has developed a friendship with Holden, having played tennis with him in the past, and is willing to give him a place to stay for the night. After Holden arrives at Mr. Antolini’s home, they have a long discussion regarding his work in school and his future. Like Mr. Spencer, Mr. Antolini is worried about Holden. He explains, “I hate to tell you, but once you have a fair idea where you want to go, your first move will be to apply yourself in school. You’ll have to. You’re a student – whether the idea appeals to you or not” (188-189). Mr. Antolini also sees potential in Holden, and knows that he is an intelligent boy despite his apathy for learning. Drunkenly, yet genuinely, he tells Holden that, if he goes along with an academic education any considerable distance, it will begin to give him an idea what size mind he has. In addition to characters in the story, many readers feel an intimate connection with Holden. There are many aspects of his personality that the reader can relate to. For example, Holden views any semblance to adulthood as “phony.” This is probably because the adult world generally rejects him, so calling it phony makes him feel better about it. In one