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How do Holden's history teacher and classmates aggravate his need for sympathy in The...

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katy050 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 22, 2012 at 7:30 PM via web

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How do Holden's history teacher and classmates aggravate his need for sympathy in The Catcher in the Rye? Why does he yell "Sleep tight ya morons," as he leaves Pencey Prep?

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terifoltz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 22, 2012 at 7:45 PM (Answer #1)

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As much as Holden appears to be a loner, he really does crave AUTHENTIC connection to people.  This is why he is drawn to Phoebe, Jane, and all children...their honesty and authenticity.  Although Holden agrees with his history teacher's evaluation of him, he was hoping for some more attention than he got.  After all, Holden DID stop by the teacher's house....a true loner would probably not done that.  Holden tries to connect to the students at Pencey but fails to find that authenticity and genuine friendship.  This is why he yells to them when he leaves. he feels that the school itself is phony with its misleading photos in the brochure.  He is disappointed in Stradlater who doesn't appreciate the essay Holden wrote for him.  Holden is especially discouraged when Stradlater asks Jane out and she goes. Holden needs sympathy but cannot ask for it.  He could be grieving for his younger brother...he could be suffering from isolation....but no one picks up on the signs he send out.  Once more, people fail Holden. 

 

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