Raven Symoné

Raven Symoné

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Catcher in the Rye Reaction Post

     In todays society, there is a constant push for individuality. "Be yourself" is plastered on walls throughout 

schools, and conformists are often looked down on as "unoriginal" and "typical". The 50's, when The Catcher in 

the Rye was written, was an  immensely different time. With the rise of television, societal norms were broadcast 

widely, with characters showing what the "protocols" were to dress nicely or poorly, act cooly or freakishly, and 

generally be popular or 

"alone". Salinger explores the idea of conformity vs. individuality in his novel The Catcher in the Rye through the 

protagonist, compulsive liar Holden Caulfield.  Throughout the novel, Holden, constantly makes up ridiculous lies 

to, in a way, react to the "phoniness" and conformity of the world around him. One example of Holden's constant 

lies, sometimes even for no reason, is when he meets Mrs. Morrow on the train and they begin to discuss her 


"'...Perhaps you know my son, then, Ernest Morrow? He goes to Pencey.' 'Yes, I do. He's in my class.' Her son 

was doubtless the biggest bastard that ever went to Pencey, in the whole crumby history of the school. 'I must tell 

Ernest we met,' he said. 'May I ask your name, dear?' 'Rudolf Schmidt,' I told her. I didn't feel like giving her my

 whole life history. Rudolf Schmidt was the name of the janitor of our dorm" (Salinger 87).

     Holden's random and often ridiculous lies can be seen as a reaction to the "phoniness" of other people. When 

Holden decides a person he is talking to is phony (a conformist), he lies to cope with their phoniness and, in a 

way, match what they exude. Holden also lies to cope with his own personal phoniness, which he attempts to 

break throughout his push for non-comformity throughout the novel. 

     Holden's move to New York, stay in a sketchy hotel, and constant conversing with strangers show his urge to 

be independent. Through this, it can be 

seen that Holden is trying to find his authentic self. By dropping out of school and warping usual social rules, 

Salinger attempts to exemplify the importance of finding yourself through Holden's move from normality. Salinger, 

who pushes the idea of conformity equalling phoniness throughout the novel, presents an odd ending to the story.

At the end of the novel, Holden is unhappy with his new life, formed through his independence, and decides to 

"conform" and go back to school. Through this, Salinger shows that although Holden might be "conforming", his 

authenticity could sprout from moving with the crowd. Salinger shows that, whether it's "conforming" or "being 

independent", it's important to find your authentic self and possible to in either instances. Some people are 

leaders, and some followers, and Salinger mirrors this dichotomy through Holden's inner conflict, showing its true

 importance in society both in the 50's and today. 

1 comment:

  1. Jake this is great! I really like how you have the comparison between holden's type of phony and his struggle to find him self in conjunction witht he "fakness" of his peers. Read my article, I have some similar ideas! I feel like you developed it a bit better though. So does holden's compulsive lying make him fake? or his conformity?