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Catcher in the Rye Archetypal Analysis

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Essay title: Catcher in the Rye Archetypal Analysis


Jerome David Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, is a work of fiction and a

tragic-comedy. It is an interesting and controversial novel. Though controversial, the novel appealed to a great number of people. It was a hugely popular bestseller and general critical success. I chose this novel because of the negative status it has with parents, teachers, and school. I wanted to discover what the roots of this controversy are.

The main character, Holden Caulfield, tells about his life before and after he was kicked out from Pencey Prep. The novel was told in first person through the eyes of the narrator, Holden. He recalls the events as a series of flashbacks placing the setting of the story in his mind.

I was bored by the novel, but dutifully finished reading it anyway, I suppose so that I could say that I had. It wasn't an electrifying reading experience at first but on the middle part of the novel I started liking the novel. In some way, it seems that Holden and I have something in common, when I was a teenager that is, being judgmental. Throughout the novel, Holden was extremely judgmental of almost everything and everybody. He criticizes people who are boring, people who are insecure and most of all people who are “phony”, though he feels like

everyone is a “phony”. Holden is so much like Bart of “The Simpsons”; they both think that everyone they knew was a phony which sometimes irritates them. They are both very unpredictable.


Every story of has a character, every character has his journey and in this journey has a hero. I would like to analyze the journey of the key character Holden Caulfield, a sixteen-year old prep school student, which I think is the hero since he is the protagonist in the novel.

The Departure

Holden had received a notice that he is being expelled from Pencey Prep School, which is his fourth school, since he failed four out of his five subjects. I think that number 4 is associated with the circle and life cycle, maybe it is really in his nature not to take his studies seriously. I guess this scene was some kind of familiar. While reading this part, my cousin suddenly puffed into my mind. Holden and my cousin, Jet, were both expelled from school and were both intelligent in some way. But I think the immaturity endangers them. It also took a while for my aunt to know the truth since she was abroad.

Two weeks before Christmas, several days before he's expected home for Christmas vacation. Due to some instances like being annoyed with his history teacher whom he visited to bid goodbye and the fight that he had with his roommate, Stradlater.

“Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules.”

“Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it.”

Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right- I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.

This quotation was from Holden’s conversation with his history teacher Spencer. The conversation illuminates Holden’s character. We see his silent contempt for adults, which is evidenced by the silent ridiculing and cursing of Spencer that Holden hides beneath his nodding. We also see how alienated he is. He clearly identifies with those on the “other side” of the game, and he feels alone, as though the world is against him.

Holden decides that he had enough of Pencey, even though he has many friends and acquaintances, he can not form lasting, meaningful friendships. Most teenagers, although they do have insecurities, are able to function in relationships, but not Holden. Holden is alienated from society. He feels that no one understands him and that everyone is a "phony". He thinks that no one is honest, and everybody wants to be something else. He feels that the only person who understands him is Phoebe, his younger sister. He does not have relationships with girls or anyone because he feels that he is the only genuine person in the world. Maybe Holden’s alienation is the cause of most of his pains. Just like the character in the movie,” The Good Girl”, wherein Tom Worther is a loner like Holden.

Holden’s loneliness was a more concrete manifestation of his alienation. It is both a source of great pain and a source if his security.

And so, Holden left school planning to spend some time on his own

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