I have decided to reproduce here one of my earlier works of writing, verbatim. I wrote it to have a different perspective from the bland essays the other students were handing the teacher on The Catcher in the Rye, so I created this. The reference in the last sentence of the last paragraph will only be truly understood by those familiar with Homer's The Odyssey. Enjoy.
Holden Caulfield, the main character and narrator in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is a hunter of truth, a hunter whose actions are often misinterpreted as hypocritical. Holden is a samurai in a hunting cap; pessimism and cynical outlook are his double-edged sword. Symbolism and irony fuel his passion. An invisible cloak of humility protects the lone soldier from the world. The brave soul goes forward with armament, food, and armor in his quest to see through all that is, “phony”.
The author repeatedly places melancholy and misanthropic spirit as the primary tool for locating truth. In Chapter 10, the stalwart gladiator enters a hotel lobby, in which his perspective and description are merciless, dissecting every element of the scene and removing and analyzing every single aspect that disturbs him. The narrator immediately identifies a member of the band as, “phony”, recognizing the misuse of talent and disguise of disgusting society. At first this may be observed as hypocritical, since the minstrel of the story seems to represent every quality of those described. This teller of tales speaks not from hypocrisy, but from wisdom, as can be seen and understood through the popular adage, “The difference between a sage and a fool, is that a sage knows he’s a fool.”
Throughout the novel the main character, while orating the dual role of warrior and bard, often remarks, “That killed me.” This is the protagonist’s way of identifying irony. Phoebe Caulfield, the boy’s kid sister, has the same childhood innocence that the hero wishes for, but then the troubadour would be powerless to help the vociferous female child retain her naiveté. The painful irony is what triggers the martyr’s aphorism. It is this very irony that induces the sacrifice’s vigor.
Even while wielding an implement of war it is necessary to defend yourself in other ways; in the case of the sagacious warrior, humbleness is essential. Modesty prevents detection of lack of phoniness in a person. In Chapter 13, the modern jongleur makes a foolish decision; he removes the armor, disguise, and shielding, and behaves like he actually feels. That one incident alone resulted in the seeker of truth being pummeled almost to death. The phony armor is imperative to survival; those who are not phony must appear phony to those who are in order to live through experiences with them.
Holden never finds real truth anywhere but in child hood innocence. After all the preparation and the long journey, Phoebe is the only relic that satisfies him. The smart young girl proves to be the only genuine article. Her free will and youthful spirit let her roam free above all that is, “phony”. The hunter nearly cries at the end of the novel, but it is only Phoebe, hearing of his expulsion, that holds nothing back and cries. Phoebe, “who really cried.”