In J. D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, we are introduced to an intriguing character named Holden Caulfield. In this narrative, Holden summarizes what happens to him in the past, over a period of three days, starting from when he is in Pencey Prep, an expensive boarding school in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. During this time, Holden goes through many internal hardships and dilemmas, mainly focusing on his view of society and people around him, acting “phony”. This feeling could be explained by one of the existential themes: Authenticity. Authenticity is wanting you or someone else to live a life that is unique to one’s inner self, and as an individual, while not blindly following and behaving like what society and other people believe. Holden holds strong feelings towards being authentic, and hates it when people aren’t sincere and honest with themselves, just for wealth, recognition, or renown. Examples of being not true to yourself according to Holden are: selling out, being two faced in public, and boasting or showing off to gain acknowledgement and acceptance from other people. What Holden does not understand however, is that the world is not as simple as he perceives it to be, it is not just black and white, phony or authentic. Holden’s view on authenticity is absurd, since everyone does not have the same mentality as him, and the concept of staying utterly and truly authentic is impossible in society. To begin with, we are introduced to Holden’s older brother, D.B. D.B is a writer currently working in Hollywood, writing some movie about Annapolis, starring a very renown actor. Although most people would be astonished and proud for D.B to become so successful, Holden thinks he sold out. He says, “Now he’s out in Hollywood, D.B.,being a prostitute. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me” (Salinger 4). Holden assumes that instead of writing for the joy of it, D.B does it solely for the compensation, and just like the stereotype of a prostitute, he thinks D.B is going against his own principles and morals in order to make money. It is clear that he is not happy about D.B making so much, especially from a source that Holden despises. “He just got a Jaguar. One of those little English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He’s got a lot of dough, now. He didn’t use to” (3). It is important to notice the word “use” being italicized. Holden implies he liked D.B much more when he wasn’t rich. Holden had respect for D.B in the past when he made creative short stories, but now he associates him with every other phony that Holden knows. What Holden does not understand however, is that it is common for someone to pursue in wealth, and money while sacrificing their old life. Zeelengerg, Breugelmans, and Van de Ven state, “Another viewpoint is that greed is inherent to human nature and that all people are greedy to some extent. Some argue that being greedy is vital for human welfare and that it is an important evolutionary motive that promotes self-preservation” (505). The three scholars state that everyone is greedy as it is a part of human nature, and some debate that greed is important for happiness and prosperity.
August 23, 2019 0 Comments