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Subject: Re: Why is Catcher in the Rye a war novel?
Date: Sun, 4 Oct 1998 13:38:29 -0400

What's up?

Thanks for your  reply. You didn't understand my question but thanks for
trying. I don't read many books, but I did read this one. I agree with you
it's very good. Anyway the reason I'm writing back is I felt  like sending
you my essay. Since you liked the book so much and maybe you will see the
war in the book the way I see it. Tell me what you think.
                                                Catcher in the Rye Essay

    Childhood prolonged, cannot remain a fairyland. It becomes a hell
(Louise
Bogan). Holden Caulfield sees childhood as the ideal state of being. He
thinks adulthoodis filled with corrupt people. The only way anyone can win
in the adult world is if the cards are stacked in his favor. The characters
in The Catcher in the Rye play a diverse set of roles in the war between
childhood and adulthood.
    Children do not think of appearances very highly, but in order to be
respected in
the adult world you must always look your best. Holden did not care what
people thought about him as long as he felt good. He would wear his red
hunting cap backward (p. 18). He also would have his hair cut crew cut
style, which is thought of as a kids haircut. Ackley is the absolute extreme
of not just looking, bad but he also had terrible hygiene. He had mossy
yellow teeth from not brushing them and bad acne(p.19). Adults always hide
their imperfections to make themselves look good, but many are as Holden
calls them, secret slobs (p. 27). Stradlater is a perfect example of this.
He always shaves twice but never cleans his razor (p. 27). He will spend
forever making sure his hair is perfect and all his clothes look just right.
Sunny, the prostitute, bleaches her hair and dresses up nice to fit into the
adult world (p.95). Mrs. Antolini, a married women, needs to look good when
she goes out in public. The night Holden crashes there for a while, she
looks terrible without her make-up and with rollers in her hair (p. 185).
All that matters is she looks good by society’s standards so she can be
accepted into the adult world.
    Children live on lasting compassionate memories, while adults go for
empty
sexual conquests. Holden remembers that Jane would always keep her kings in
the back row when they played checkers because they looked pretty there
(p.32). When Holden comes home, he stops and buys “Little Shirley Beans”
record for Phoebe (p 114). Even though it breaks, he still gives it to her.
She loves it just as much as if it were not broken. Holden remembers Allie
by his baseball mitt with the poems on it (p. 39). When Holden tried to
bring meaning into the adult way of things, he was outcaste. After he told
Maurice to send up a prostitute, he did not score with her but he tried to
talk to her (p. 95).  He tried to make something meaningful out of it but
Sunny did not understand. It does not matter if Stradlater gave Jane the
time on their date, but whatever they did meant absolutely nothing to either
one of them. Stradlater could not even get her name right (p.31). The three
girls Holden meets in the bar may be the worst of all. They could care less
about anybody, but would die to get with a movie star (p. 72). These
memories show thought and love which are a lot stronger than these empty
sexual conquests.
    Children move through their childhood without a care in the world but
have a
wonderful time doing it, while adults push kids to become more adult like
and figure out
what they want to accomplish. As Holden is waiting for Phoebe to show up to
say good-bye to her, he takes two boys who are skipping school to see the
mummies (p. 203). These two kids do not care about math class, they just
want to have a good time by going to the museum. This causes Holden to
remember the museum and how it has always been the same. Every time he has
walked through it, it’s the same as when he enjoyed it as a little kid. When
Holden takes Phoebe to the Ferris wheel, he wishes that it could always be
this way for him and for her (p. 212). Holden’s history teacher Mr. Spencer
tries to get him to understand that he has to focus in order to make a
living. Mr. Antolini gets through to Holden a little better but is unable to
keep his attention (p 181). Carl Luce is just a few years older than Holden
and basically tells him he is immature and will always be the same (p.
136).Kids really want things to stay the same while adults want things to
change and grow quicker than they should.
     Holden seems to be the only one fighting this war. When he makes an
adult
decision he always gets sick. When someone he loves makes an adult decision
he gets very mad at them. The more he tries to keep kids from turning into
adults the more
depressed he becomes. As he goes crazy, life will become hell for him.

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