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What the Female Catcher in the Rye Characters Tell Us About Holden Caulfield
Isolation is the central theme of The Catcher in the Rye, which tells the story of a young man pouring his heart out into the world for 200 pages. However, conflict perfectly defines Holden Caulfield; he can’t decide whether to call all his friends over for a drink and chat or run away to the Wild or run away to the forest.
This is only the tip of the entire iceberg of inconsistencies in the story. Holden hates lies but always lies, hates Hollywood but pretends to be a gangster movie star, wants to please people but pisses them off on purpose for fun, complains that everyone is always overgeneralizing. Holden’s narration dominates the entire story, making it hard to get an accurate read on any given situation, which means that everything Caulfield relays through the perception machine has to be reverse-engineered before we can understand it. Let’s look at Holden’s relationship with two other important Catchers in the Rye.
According to Holden Caulfield, Phoebe is the (second) greatest (after her little sister Allie, who died of leukemia). She is the nicest, smartest, cutest, and most amazing little sister a person could ask for. So what does this tell us? Nothing without evidence. Here’s a more nuanced approach to sibling relationships:
Exhibit A: Phoebe takes Holden seriously. When Holden tells her to “walk west,” Phoebe grabs her suitcase, sneaks out of the house, wanders around all day, and meets her at the museum in her red hunting hat. getaway car. Contrast that with the reception Holden gets when he wants to run away with Sally. (He runs in the wrong direction in the running part.) Not that it’s even a good idea to run away with Sally, but the point is that almost everyone laughs/tells Holden like he’s an idiot. We (and Phoebe) know that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Exhibit B: Phoebe gives Holden something. This may not seem like a big deal since he is the only one in the novel. Holden constantly lends things to people around him, and they never say thank you in return. In the first ten chapters alone, at 26, he gets rid of his coat, his essay, his typewriter, and his thirteen-dollar drink. But not only is Phoebe incredibly grateful for her gifts (remember that broken record she kept lovingly in her drawer?), but when she realizes Holden’s broken, she lends him her Christmas savings and returns it. his red hunting hat when blue. It’s a sad day when a 10-year-old shows more generosity than an entire prep school.
Exhibit C: Phoebe doesn’t want to hear about Holden, but she wants to. Holden hates people who “don’t notice anything”, and while he’s busy making brilliant observations about the behavior and emotions of everyone he meets, he’s so busy trying to make an impression that he can’t think of anyone but himself. But Phoebe wants to know what time Holden came in, what she’s going to do, whether she’s going to see him play, why she’s a few days early, which class she failed, why she didn’t try harder. Even though he’s crazy, Holden “could tell by his neck that he was listening. He always listened when you told him something.” Besides, he’s the only person who cares enough to understand that she’s been kicked out. Not bad for a 10 year old.
Aside from Ally, Jane is the most difficult character in the novel; Although Holden’s thoughts often cross his mind, he never appears in The Catcher in the Rye. Holden is careful not to say too much about Jane, but he clearly likes her. He might even love her. Consider the evidence.
Exhibit A: Holden can’t get too sexy with her. According to his philosophy about sex (ie, sex is inherently degrading), the only women he has sex with are women he can’t respect. Remember the goofy but cute dancer whose amazing ass is “very nice and pulls everything off”? Or what about the “little blue butt dress” that Holden’s Luntz-loving friend mentions? (Apparently he’s a type.) In contrast, the closest Holden comes to being sexually intimate with Jane is revealing that she’s “in great shape,” but his stepfather suspects that he’s sexually abusing her, so he divulges that information. Holden tries to avoid Jane during all of this “crazy thing,” but remember that the key word in “respectful distance” is “respectful.”
Exhibit B: Jane keeps all her kings in the back row. Why is this important? Not really, but the fact that Holden thinks so says a lot about their dynamic. Holden thinks he’s important enough to tell us that he plays checkers and golf, is always open-mouthed, is great at handshakes, his stepfather is a bad drinker, and his red sweater “knocks him out.” .” Knowing Stradlater doesn’t care about any of this (or whether her name is Jane or Jean) drives Holden up the wall.
Exhibit C: Holden doesn’t complain about Jane. Not once. Holden complains about everything except Ally. Even Phoebe “can be very slimy at times,” but she is suspiciously silent when it comes to Jane’s mistakes. Coming from Holden, that’s saying something.
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