The primary theme of The Catcher within the Rye is isolation, which is fascinating coming from a man who spills his guts to the world for 200 pages. Nonetheless, the contradiction characterizes Holden Caulfield completely; he cannot determine whether or not to name all his buddies collectively for a spherical of drinks and chatting or flee to the woods for some Into-the-Wild type escapism.

That is simply the tip of a whole iceberg of narrative inconsistency. Holden loathes phonies however always lies, hates Hollywood however pretends he is the star of a gangster flick, needs individuals to love him however deliberately irritates them for enjoyable, and complains that everyone over-generalizes on a regular basis. Holden’s narrative presence so absolutely dominates the story that it is tough to get an correct learn of any state of affairs, which means no matter comes by the Caulfield Notion Machine have to be reverse engineered earlier than we are able to make sense of it. Let’s take a look at Holden’s relationships with the 2 different most essential Catcher within the Rye characters.

Phoebe Caulfield

In keeping with Holden Caulfield, Phoebe is the (second) biggest particular person ever (proper after his little brother, Allie, who died of leukemia). She’s the nicest, smartest, prettiest, most superlative-y sibling an individual might ask for. So what does this inform us? Nothing with out proof. Here is a extra nuanced method to the brother-sister relationship:

Exhibit A: Phoebe takes Holden critically. When Holden says he will “hitch hike out west,” Phoebe packs her suitcase, sneaks it out of the constructing, lugs it round for the day, and meets him on the museum together with his purple searching hat on and all the things they want however the getaway automotive. Evaluate that to the reception Holden will get when he asks Sally to run away with him. (He achieves the operating half, simply within the fallacious course.) Which isn’t to say that operating away with Sally would even be a good suggestion, however the level is that virtually everybody laughs/tells Holden off like he is an entire fool – which we (and Phoebe) know could not be farther from the reality.

Exhibit B: Phoebe offers Holden stuff. Which can not seem to be an enormous deal besides that she’s the one particular person within the novel who does. Holden always lends/offers issues to the individuals round him, who usually do not provide a lot as a thank-you in return. Within the first ten chapters alone – and there are 26 – he will get screwed out of a coat, an essay, a typewriter, and 13 {dollars}’ value of drinks. Phoebe, alternatively, not solely exhibits immense gratitude for his items (bear in mind when she lovingly stashes the damaged shards of the document in a drawer?), but additionally lends Holden her Christmas financial savings when she finds out he is broke and provides him again his purple searching hat when he is feeling blue. It is a unhappy day when a 10-year previous exhibits extra generosity than a whole prep faculty’s value of entitled youngsters.

Exhibit C: Phoebe needs to listen to about Holden – even when she does not wish to. Holden hates that folks “by no means discover something,” and whereas he is busy making sensible behavioral and emotional observations about everybody he meets, they’re so busying making an attempt to be spectacular that they cannot consider anybody however themselves. Phoebe, nevertheless, needs to know what time Holden arrived, what he is as much as, whether or not or not he’ll come see her play, why he is a number of days early, which lessons he failed, and why he did not attempt tougher. Though she’s mad, Holden “might inform by the again of her neck that she was listening. She all the time listens once you inform her one thing.” What’s extra, she’s the one particular person paying sufficient consideration to determine that he was kicked out of college. Not dangerous sleuthing for a 10-year previous.

Jane Gallagher

Apart from Allie, Jane is the novel’s most tantalizingly elusive determine; though Holden’s ideas wander to her usually, she by no means makes a bodily look in The Catcher within the Rye. Holden is cautious to not reveal an excessive amount of about Jane, but it surely’s apparent that he likes her. Maybe even loves her. Let’s overview the proof.

Exhibit A: Holden cannot get too attractive along with her. As per his philosophy on intercourse (i.e. intercourse is inherently degrading), the one girls within the novel he sexualizes are those he cannot respect. Keep in mind the silly however fairly dancer whose implausible butt “twitched so good and all”? Or what about Holden’s name-dropping, Luntz-loving good friend with the “little blue butt-twitcher of a costume”? (Apparently, he has a kind.) In distinction, the closest Holden will get to sexualizing Jane is in revealing that she has a “terrific determine,” however he solely divulges this data as a result of he suspects her step-dad is sexually abusing her. Admittedly, Holden makes some extent of avoiding Jane all through all this “madman stuff,” however simply bear in mind the important thing phrase in “respectful distance” is “respectful.”

Exhibit B: Jane retains all her kings within the again row. Why is that essential? It isn’t, however the truth that Holden thinks so says lots about their dynamic. The issues Holden thinks are essential sufficient to inform us are that she performs checkers and golf, that her mouth all the time hangs open, that she’s nice to carry palms with, that her stepdad is a awful boozehound, and that her purple sweater “knocked him out.” Realizing that Stradlater does not give a rattling about any of this (or whether or not her identify is Jane or Jean, for that matter) drives Holden up the wall.

Exhibit C: Holden does not complain about Jane. Not as soon as. And Holden complains about actually EVERYTHING besides Allie. Even Phoebe “will be very snotty typically,” however in terms of Jane’s faults, he’s suspiciously silent. And coming from Holden, that is saying one thing.



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