Holden Caulfield, portrayed in the J.D. Salinger novel Catcher in the Rye as an adolescent struggling to find his own identity, possesses many characteristics that easily link him to the typical teenager living today. The fact that the book was written many years ago clearly exemplifies the timeless nature of this work. Holden’s actions are those that any teenager can clearly relate with. The desire for independence, the sexually related encounters, and the questioning of ones religion are issues that almost all teens have had or will have to deal with in their adolescent years. The novel and its main character’s experiences can easily be related to and will forever link Holden with every member of society, because everyone in the world was or will be a teen sometime in their life.
The first and most obvious characteristic found in most teens, including Holden, would be the desire for independence. Throughout the novel, Holden is not once found wishing to have his parents help in any way. He has practically lived his entire life in dorms at prestigious schools, and has learned quite well how to be on his own. This tendency of teenagers took place in even in ancient history, where the freshly developed teen opts to leave the cave and hunt for is own food. Every teenager tries, in his or her own way, to be independent. Instead of admitting to ones parents of a wrongful deed, the teen tries covering up the mistake or avoiding it in hopes that they won’t get in any trouble. They feel that they have enough intelligence to think through a problem without going to their parents for assistance. When Holden hears the news that he has been expelled from Pency, he concludes that his parents would not know of this for a few days. Therefore, he would wait from Saturday all the way to Wednesday, let his parents “get it and thoroughly digest it”, and then face the consequences, which will more than likely be less severe after his parents calmed down. He states on page fifty-one, “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.” In taking the independent route, Holden does not look for sympathy or help from either of his parents.
An Analysis of Brooks’ First Fight.Then Fiddle
An Analysis of Brooks’ First Fight.Then Fiddle
Gwendolyn Brooks’ “First fight. Then Fiddle.” initially seems to argue for the necessity of brutal war in order to create a space for the pursuit of beautiful art. The poem is more complex, however, because it also implies both that war cannot protect art and that art should not justify war. Yet if Brooks seems, paradoxically, to argue against art within a work of art, she does so in order create an artwork that by its very recognition of art’s costs would justify itself.
Brooks initially seems to argue for the necessity of war in order to create a safe space for artistic creation. She suggests this idea quite forcefully in the paired short sentences that open the poem: “First fight. Then fiddle.” One must fight before fiddling for two reasons. First, playing the violin would be a foolish distraction if an enemy were threatening one’s safety; it would be, as the phrase goes, “fiddling while Rome burns.” Second, fighting the war first would prepare a safe and prosperous place where one could reasonably pursue the pleasures of music. One has to “civilize a space / Wherein to play your violin with grace.” It should be noted further that while Brooks writes about securing a “civilized” place to play the violin, she seems clearly to be using this playing as an image for art in general, as her more expansive references to “beauty” or “harmony” suggest.
Nonetheless, much that Brooks writes about the necessity to fight before fiddling indicates the she does not support this idea, at least not fully. For example, Brooks describes making beautiful music as being “remote / A while” from “malice and murdering.” In addition to the negative way Brooks describes war in this line, …
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…ultural prestige of violin playing. Indeed, as an emblem of Western civility (one thinks of Renaissance sonnets), the sonnet might be involved in the very justification of the destruction of other less “civilized” peoples that the poem condemns.
One might wonder why Brooks produces poetry, especially the sonnet, if she also condemns it. I would suggest that by critically reckoning the costs of sonnet-making Brooks brings to her poetry a self-awareness that might justify it after all. She creates a poetry that, like the violin playing she invokes, sounds with “hurting love.” This “hurting love” reminds us of those who may have been hurt in the name of the love for poetry. But in giving recognition to that hurt, it also fulfills a promise of poetry: to be more than a superficial social “grace,” to teach us something we first did not, or did not wish to, see.