AP English Language 5/6
23 October 2013
The Catcher in the Rye- Holden’s Call for Help
Adrift, confused, and emotionally unstable, Holden exemplifies a teenager’s mentality. In the beginning of J.D Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, the troubled sixteen year old Holden Caulfield is sitting in a mental institution. This is due in part the untimely death of his close brother Allie. As a result, Holden’s world is shaken and turned upside down. What makes this unfortunate situation even worst then it already is, is the fact that Holden lacks the essential support from friends and most importantly his parents. Holden deprivation in love and support from his family makes it harder to come to terms with the passing of his younger brother. Due to the inadequate love and affection Holden is unable to receive, he is casted away from his family leaving him to try to impossibly heal from his emotional wounds by himself. This hinders his recognition for all the positivity that his life has been presented. Subsequently, this equates to Holden being a lost teenage boy who is trying to find himself through all the confusion and problems he amasses. However, he lacks guidance and mutual support from his family and friends, thus leading to his lock up in a mental institution at such a young age. Holden’s lack of guidance from friends and family forces him to try to transition to adulthood without fully understanding what adulthood really is.
Holden’s perception of what adults do is misconstrued, thus leading to his shocking acts which includes the hiring of a prostitute, and the excessive amounts of drinking and smoking at such an early age. One logical reason why Holden is failing to succeed is because he does not have a healthy relationship with his mother. Carl Rogers created an idea of Self Actualization similar to that of Maslowe. Rogers believes that, “a healthy personality derives from the mother’s unconditional love” (Benson 112). In the case of Holden’s mother, Mrs. Caufield is still in a state of shock because of the loss of her young son. The emotional distance between Holden and his mother has led to Holden’s unwillingness to open up about his overwhelming grief confined to his brother’s death. The lack of attention from his parents, stunts Holden’s ability to “live fully in the moment” (Benson 112). As a result, he ventures on a three day journey through New York City to try to find himself. By doing this, his sporadic behavior, leads many readers to question whether he is deserving of being sent to the mental institution at such an early age due to the lack of support from his parents.
A great example in which Holden extrudes himself from his family occurs when he describes how his mother would react when finding out he had been kicked out of Pency Prep. In a way he wants to avoid his parents. In Chapter 7 Holden says, “I didn't want to go home or anything till they got it and thoroughly digested it and all. I didn't want to be around when they first got it. My mother gets very hysterical. She's not too bad after she gets something thoroughly digested, though.” (Salinger 51). This quote puts emphasis on the fact that Mrs. Caufield and Holden does not have a close knit relationship one will need in achieving self-Actualization according to Rogers.
Holden’s unsteady relationship with his family and friends leads him to wander the streets looking to pass by time before his parents get the unfortunate news that their son has failed once again at school. Throughout his three days venturing in New York City, Holden repeatedly attempts to create conversations with various adults. This shows that he is trying to transition into becoming more of an adult without even knowing it. However, Holden has a peculiar perspective on what adulthood really is. Holden believes that as adults, many drink, smoke, and have sex routinely. This skewed sense of adulthood brings forward