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The Catcher in the Rye - Research Paper

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People's lives are often changes by the death of someone close to them. This situation is depicted in the Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. The death of Holden Caulfield's younger brother, Allie, results in Holden's confusion both academically and socially.

First, Holden refers to everyone as "phonies." Holden feels that in order to fit into our society, one must be "phony" to a certain degree. Throughout the novel Holden mentions how phonies everywhere make him want to puke. Holden says that Ossenburger seems obsessed with making money by burying people in cheap funerals. Holden sees Stradlater as the quintessential phony, because he often puts up an act in order to keep his image as a "jock" and to impress girls. For example, in the book Holden says that,"You don't always have to get too sexy to get to know a girl" (Salinger 76). Likewise, Holden labels Sally Hayes as the queen of phonies because everything around her seems to be "marvelous" and "grand" for her. The problem Holden faces is that part of him wants to connect with other people on an adult level (and, more specifically, to have a sexual encounter), while part of him wants to reject the adult world as "phony," and to retreat into his own memories of childhood.

Second, Holden likes for things to stay the same. Holden likes that in The Museum of Natural History nothing ever changes. He can go back to the museum time and time again and everything would be the way it was before. Nevertheless, it is believed that Holden feels this way because Allie would have still been alive if this was true in real life. Holden alienates himself from society. Holden uses alienation as a form of self-protection. He hides and isolates himself because he is afraid of adulthood. He fears the many responsibilities, becoming sexually active, etc. He just isn't ready to grow up yet.

The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody'd move. . . . Nobody'd be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. (Salinger 121)

Holden gets kicked out of multiple schools. First, he gets kicked out of the Wooten School. Then he gets expelled from Elkton Hills because he failed all his classes and he neglects to do all his work. And in Pency Prep, Holden flunks every class, except English. This results in him getting kicked out of Pency Prep. Holden get kicks out of multiple schools because he did not comply with the academic requirements and because he refuses to show any effort.

The overwhelming question that he poses for the many readers who have become absorbed in his fate is--can he survive in a clockwork-controlled world? The question is not, as it is in "I'm Crazy," can he hope to be successful, but can he survive at all? He realizes this as he is walking down Fifth Avenue and suddenly fears



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