Essay I wrote for Catcher in the Rye for school. The teacher asked me if my mom did it xD.
Catcher in the Rye Essay
In the short story, “Dead Man’s Path” there is a headmaster of a school who wants to force the villagers to give up the traditional methods of living for the headmasters radical methods. The villagers revolt, destroying most of the school and ruining the headmasters reputation. This relates to the message that is conveyed in The Catcher in the Rye because it shows a boy in his teens who wants the world to shape around what he wants and believes is right for himself and in fact everyone. Salinger is trying to convey that though people can try to shape society to be what they want it to be, they will be compelled to go along with it in its current form eventually.
Salinger portrays Holden as one who has a hatred for phonies, yet he himself is a liar at times. This hypocrisy is one of his ideology’s major faults and his most prominent. He is a good liar, almost a pathological one at that, saying this about himself, “I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and someone asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible.” This is a quote that shows that though he hates fakes, he is a pathological liar, this points to the fact that the conflict in the book between Holden and the phony world is in truth within him as much as anywhere else.
Then when Holden’s in the bar, and trying to order a drink from the waiter, he tries to make the waiter feel bad for making him show identification, this is in fact what he hates in the first place — people lying and causing conflicts/problems within situations he is in. His conversation with the waiter frustrated him, “I gave him this very cold stare, like he’d insulted the hell out of me, and asked him, “Do I look like I’m under twenty-one?””. If Holden watched his own conversation with this waiter from another table, if he knew that he was lying, he probably would’ve commented on it (portraying himself in a negative light).
By the end of the book, Holden is on his way to being what society wants him to be, and one of the last things he says is this, “About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice, It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” This shows how he is on his way to being what society wants him to. Holden realizes that everyone can be remembered in a positive way, moreover he should perhaps think of more people in this way, and this is what changes Holden, the fact that phonies as well as others have a spot in the world, and they fill it because it was only built for them.
So as Salinger says throughout the book, and implies as well, people can have their own views, and these views are okay, yet society will always have the upper hand, and the agreement between all of the peoples views, and it will comply to you until a point, until you are forced to go along with it. Holden is made into someone who needs people more at the end of the book; someone who feels as if anybody can have a spot, even if they are slightly “fake” or “phony”. He is shaped by society to what the rest of the world wants to see him be, and he ends up as a person who now knows what is best for him and the people around him. Salinger shows that complete censorship isn’t good, but how if someone wants to change the world and the world doesn’t want to change, then the world will change him/her.