While resisting maturation, Holder believes he resents society because society is fraudulent and artificial, but all he really yearns for is someone who is willing to listen to his fears regarding his transition into adulthood. When nobody gives him the attention he craves, Holder subconsciously estranges himself from others, and in his mind, it is the validation he seeks as to why he is more copasetic than everyone else around him. His cynical sense of superiority is his habituated of self-preservation, and while it does offer him mom stability, it also debilitates his mental soundness and social capability.
Holder craves human interaction but his contemptuously defensive barrier prevents him from doing so; thus it not only becomes his sole source of strength, but it also morphs into his biggest detrimental obstacle. Through the usage of recurring symbolism, juvenile first-person narration, and the contradictory hypocrisy of the protagonist in the novel, Slinger realistically portrays the chronic feelings of alienation and isolation that characterize a coming-of-age story while also adamantly addressing the abstruse issue guarding the loss of one’s innocence.
InseparTABLE from the protagonist, the obnoxious red hunting hat has come to be one of the paramount symbols that epitomize the distinctive child-like identity of Holder Coalfield. Although seemingly proud and boastful of the flamboyant hat, Holder becomes very self-conscious when he is in the public eye and does not wear it, but in his moments of vulnerability, the hat shows up to aggrandize his confidence and transmute his attitude into a tough, lackadaisical one.
Thus, the red hunting hat transforms into a crucial way by which the protagonist perceives himself because when he wears it, he can be as insular and individualistic as he desires. Conversely, the hat also represents Holder’s inability to love others, Holder himself states, ‘This is a people shooting hat. Shoot people in this hat” (Slinger 30). The hostile indifference in his tone solidifies his defense mechanism against others and halts all insightful interactions with the “phonies” and other individuals.
At the time of the novel’s publication, young people wore hats with the bill turned front. However, Holder deliberately wears the hat backwards “as a badge of is nonconformity and his rebellion against the rest of society,” which also symbolizes his self- appointed task of preserving innocence (Vanderbilt 297). “To be a catcher in the rye, Holder’s ambition, is to be a kind of secular saint, willing and TABLE to save children from disasters” (Bloom 1-2). In addition, the backwards bill also symbolizes the reverse direction of his enigmatic journey for love. As long as Holder wears the bill to the back, he remains a victim of his neurosis and continues to be unreceptive to the regenerative power of love” (Unreel 40). The presence of the hat deftly mirrors the central struggle of the book which is the protagonist’s frantic tendency towards peaceful isolation versus his critical need for attentive companionship. Repeatedly, the ducks at the central lagoon materialize throughout the novel and Holder’s fixation with them has come to embody his struggle with change and the torment of maturation.
In the frigid wintertime, Holder frets over where the ducks will go when the lagoon freezes over because in many senses, he himself is a duck with no place to return to. For instance, to infiltrate his home, he must barge in like a crook by duping the elevator boy and quietly sneaking around to avoid the ineviTABLE confrontation with his parents (Wassermann 7). While conversing with the cab driver, Holder inquires, Meal, you know the ducks that swim around in [the lagoon]? Do you happen to know where they go in the wintertime, by any chance? “‘ (Slinger 107).
The lagoon, frozen and half-frozen, becomes a metaphor that represents Holder’s transition between adolescence and adulthood. The curiosity he claims to have with regards to the ducks emulates his bewilderment that deals with the uncertainty of his own distant future. He needs a safe haven where he can tranquilly reside in that is far away from the hellish society he has known. Holder despondently necessitates permanence so he can elude adulthood, but the ducks validate that one must adapt to their environment in order to survive and subsist.
No matter how harsh the winters, the ducks continuously return which emits a message of hope and optimism despite the formerly bleak circumstances. The language in The Catcher in the Rye encompasses linguistic significance that exposes the teenage vernacular of the 1 sass and the personal idiosyncrasies of Holder’s speech define that dialect (Costello 1 1). The importance of the diction in the novel will increase with each generation as the dialect becomes less colloquial. Holder’s speech may appear to be obscene and vulgar at first, but on the contrary, Slinger intentionally created the character with regard to Holder’s sensitivity.
For example, Holder may curse frequently but he never allows himself to use the most “strongly forbidden terms,” whereas his roommates Seedeater and Ackley voices the more offensive terms habitually. The only scenarios in which Holder uses the trotter curse words are those in which he feels the need for them and when he is incapTABLE of expressing himself by other means. It also should be noted that Holder never exerts his vulgar dialect to address the audience but instead he uses it in his interactions with his schoolmates, whom he considers “phonies. As Holder is incapTABLE of communicating with others, he tends to curse more when impassioned and enraged, as seen in the incident over how Seedeater may have treated Jane Gallagher, who is the emblem of purity and innocence for Holder. At the outset of The Catcher in the Rye Holder takes firm control as narrator by sharply defining the parameters and focus of the story he will tell” (Unreel 105). The frame narration in the novel offers a bifocal viewpoint of the events that take place over the course of three days.
While there is the infantile Holder to whom the events are happening, there is also the more mature Holder retelling the span of events that have already happened to him. The entire novel itself is a flashback that offers insight as to what “madman stuff’ had really happened to Holder and what had prompted his suicide. There are obvious discrepancies between what he says, how he feels, and what really happens, and as Holder is evidently biased, his unreliability as a narrator undermines the accuracy of the circumstances described.
While the past Holder found too little innocence in the world and feared the further loss of it, the Holder in the present has reached a new level of awareness, which implies that he has come to terms with the ever- encroaching adult world. He has come to accept the fact that his task to preserve innocence as well as his search for authenticity is insurmounTABLE, ND instead of further dismissing people, he has begun to accept and value his interactions with others: “About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Seedeater and Ackley, for instance.
I think even miss that goddamn Maurice” (Slinger 277). Holder’s apparent nostalgia elucidates that the new Holder is not as begrudging and vitriolic as his past self, which connotes an optimistic ending. Because the novel is told from Holder’s point Of view, the contradictions that shape the novel reflect and characterize the neurotic, troubled mind of the misanthropic protagonist. Slinger presents Holder as a confused, hypocritical, and disillusioned teenager who constantly contradicts the way he presents himself with his actions.
For instance, Holder is a heavy smoker, but he has no wind. Holder is “quite illiterate” but he reads “a lot’ (Slinger 24). Another case of the duality in his identity is the discrepancy between his age and physical appearance, as Holder states, “l was sixteen then, and I’m seventeen now, and sometimes act like I’m about thirteen. It’s really ironical, because I’m six foot two and a half and I have gray hair’ (Slinger 13). Although he addresses Sally Hayes as the queen of phonies, he contradicts himself by stating that he wanted to marry her.
However, the most fundamental discrepancy lies in Holder’s attitude towards sex throughout the novel in which he is trying to lose his virginity but when the opportunity came with the prostitute, Sunny, Holder enunciates, “l was feeling much more depressed than sexy/’ (Slinger 123). This dilemma vehemently clashes with Holder’s ideas on purity and innocence. He assuredly deems that sex should happen between people who not only love each other but also respect one another. When Sunny formalizes sex into a business matter by rushing him, Holder is appalled at how casual and meaningless sex can be.
This prompts him into further abjection, which exemplifies his innate desire to remain outside the apocryphal grown-up world. Holder, critical of “phonies,” is arguably the biggest phony of all which is proven by his hypocritical actions. Holder Coalfield’s hypocrisy immoralities him as one of the most iconic teenagers of 20th-century American literature.