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Catcher in the Rye Essay: Holden and the Complexity of Adult Life

Holden and the Complexity of Adult Life

What was wrong with Holden, the main character in The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D.Salinger, was his moral revulsion against anything that was ugly, evil, cruel, or what he called “phoney” and his acute responsiveness to beauty and innocence, especially the innocence of the very young, in whom he saw reflected his own lost childhood. There is something wrong or lacking in the novels of despair and frustration of many writers. The sour note of bitterness and the recurring theme of sadism have become almost a convention, never thoroughly explained by the author’s dependence on a psychoanalytical interpretation of a major character. The boys who are spoiled or turned into budding homosexuals by their mothers and a loveless home life are as familiar to us today as stalwart and dependable young heroes such as John Wayne were to an earlier generation. We have accepted this interpretation of the restlessness and bewilderment of our young men and boys because no one had anything better to offer. It is tragic to hear the anguished cry of parents: “What have we done to harm him? Why doesn’t he care about anything? He is a bright boy, but why does he fail to pass his examinations? Why won’t he talk to us?”

A remarkable and absorbing novel, J. D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” may serve to calm the apprehensions of fathers and mothers about their own responsibilities, though it doesn’t attempt to explain why all boys who dismay their elders have failed to pass successfully the barrier between childhood and young manhood. It is profoundly moving and a disturbing book, but it is not hopeless. Holden Caulfield, sixteen years old and six foot two inches in hei…

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…Boy, I was shaking like a madman.”

The Catcher in the Rye is not all horror of this sort. There is a wry humor in this sixteen-year-old’s trying to live up to his height, to drink with men, to understand mature sex and why he is still a virgin at his age. His affection for children is spontaneous and delightful. There are few little girls in modern fiction as charming and lovable as his little sister, Phoebe. Altogether this is a book to be read thoughtfully and more than once. It is about an unusually sensitive and intelligent boy; but, then, are not all boys unusual and worthy of understanding? If they are bewildered at the complexity of modern life, unsure of themselves, shocked by the spectacle of perversity and evil around them – are not adults equally shocked by the knowledge that even children cannot escape this contact and awareness?

Comparison of Philippine Insurrection and Vietnam War

There are many similarities and differences between the Philippine Insurrection of the late nineteenth century and the Vietnam War of the late twentieth century. Types of warfare and atrocities committed during both conflicts are comparable, while factors such as war objectives and motivations differ greatly. I personally feel that the United States had a better cause for fighting the Vietnam War, even though it was our first major military defeat. Despite the American loss, it was more worthwhile to fight in the Vietnam War than in the Philippine Insurrection because the United States had a more laudable reason for involvement. American involvement in the Philippine crisis represented a brave new step for the country because it had emerged from its former state of isolation. However, by the time the Vietnam War began, America felt obligated to participate simply because it was the most powerful nation in the world militarily and had much experience in warfare and foreign relations.

Vietnam struggled for its independence from France in the First Indochina War. It was divided into North Vietnam, which fell under the control of Communists, and South Vietnam, which attempted to establish a republican form of government. The Northern Vietnamese were determined to reunite Vietnam under Communist rule. However, the United States subscribing to the “Domino Theory” was determined to prevent this from occurring (Encarta). Essentially, this theory stated that if one country fell under Communist rule, then many others would follow in a chain reaction, or domino effect (Encarta). The United States was resolute upon containing communism and spreading capitalism and democracy, and therefore supported South Vietnam’s resistance to…

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…tnamese People.” 2003.

Kissinger, Henry. Ending the Vietnam War. New York: Simon

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