Understanding Holden Caulfield In Catcher In The — страница 2

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end of the novel or not, it is obvious that he struggles with sexual problems throughout. Holden s problem is reflected in his inability to relate sexually to females. But he fools himself. He believes he cannot get really sexy with girls he doesn t like a lot, whereas he cannot get sexy with a girl he does like” (Edwards 563). In fact, what he likes about Jane Gallagher is that the relationship with her won t go beyond the hand holding stage” (Lee 114). Furthermore, he is “genuinely innocent” (Furst 71) and “his love of Phoebe is touching” (Mellard 261), but “he himself is phony at times, and he has virtually no sexual awareness” (Edwards 564). Holden spends a lot of time hiding his true feelings, some of which include a wide variety of sexual perversions, such

as “voyeurism” (Lee 115), “oedipal desires” (Mellard 117), and “possibly homosexuality” (Ohmann 32). But despite these wanton desires, Holden has had no serious sexual contact (Rosen 548). His “sex-book good manners” (Lee 116) lead him to “treat every sexual advance as a bayonet charge by the enemy” (Wakefield 73). It also leads him to want a sort of “symbolic castration” (Strauch 24). Therefore, the author is suggesting that Holden’s inability to realistically relate to women will leave him forever a virgin (Bloom 83). Phallic imagery is also prevalent throughout the novel. “At the carousel Holden thinks of the golden rings pursued by the children. The ring is a symbol of phallic plentitude and as such is related to the imminence of castration”

(Mellard 259). As is “Allie’s broken hand” (Strauch 25) Kennedy 4 which “is related to castration as it is to death” (Mellard 260). Caulfield’s subconscious desire for “catharsis through castration” (Furst 80) may be encouraged by the “self outpouring in the course of the psychological treatment he is undergoing (Wakefield 74). Holden’s inability to relate to the world is also evident in his awkward lack of ability to communicate with others. What has made this book such a classic among young readers, especially those of the baby boomer age is its authenticity of language (Smith 12). But it is that authenticity which makes his speech all the more confusing. “Communication is difficult, if not impossible for him with others because he inhabits quite a

different world” (Bungert 182). “The very fragmentation of Holden’s speech, his frequent recourse to such apologetic approximations as ’sort of’, ‘and all’, and ‘I mean’; show his ineptitude in communication. Nevertheless, he goes on trying to talk to people” (Branch 47). Although in the novel, Holden may be a decent author, his elocution leaves something to be desired. “Holden’s approximations serve no real, consistent linguistic function” (French 248). They “simply give a sense of looseness of expression and looseness of thought” (Goodman 21). Often, “they signify that Holden knows there is more that could be said about the issue at hand, but he is not going to bother with it” (Hassan 278). “Holden’s twentieth-century prep-school

vernacular, despite its automatic and somehow innocent obscenities and its hackneyed coinages also manages to communicate ideas and feelings of a quite complex sort within its sharply delineated boundaries. [Holden] has a deep concern with ethical valuation in his language, and it is the basis of the tension that lies in the instinctively succinct idioms” (Kaplan 32). Even the “plentitude of uncompleted phone calls that permeate the novel” (Carpenter 314) shows his inability to communicate; it never becomes clear “whether the calls Kennedy 5 purposely end in failure or whether the boy simply has bad luck” (Chugnov 184). Either way, Caulfield will remain verbally isolated in the foreseeable future (Heiserman/Miller 28). Only Salinger will ever completely understand all

of the character’s complexities and flaws. He penned Holden Caulfield to be purposely enigmatic; to evade all attempts to pin him down to one stereotype. Salinger himself became a recluse after writing this book and the reader can only assume that some of Salinger’s own personal problems are mirrored in his portrayal of Holden. Because of this, only through more scholarly analysis of The Catcher in the Rye, can one hope to have a better comprehension of Holden. Kennedy 6 Works Consulted Baumbach, Jonathan. The Saint as a Young Man: A Reappraisal of The Catcher in the Rye. Modern Language Quarterly 25.4: 461-472. Bloom, Harold, ed. Holden Caulfield. New York: Chelsea House Pub., 1990. Branch, Edgar. Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger: A Study in Literary Continuity. American