In The Catcher in the Rye what instance(s) can you cite that Holden rejects standard values?thankyou in advance to everyone who helps. once again I DID read the book but all I am getting out of...

In The Catcher in the Rye what instance(s) can you cite that Holden rejects standard values?

thankyou in advance to everyone who helps. once again I DID read the book but all I am getting out of it is that this Holden kid hates life. if you can help that would be appreciated!

Expert Answers
mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"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" (2).

So begins Holden Caulfield’s caustic assault on the Hollywood studio, a symbol of burgeoning 1950s materialism and artistic hypocrisy and, closer to home, the corruptor of his brother's fiction.

In Catcher in the Rye, Holden rejects much of the illegitimate prep-school upper class values.  Certainly he hates the privileged good-ole-boy phonies like the Headmaster and sex-starved teens like Stradlater.

Likewise, Holden rejects all old-world, pre-American values that try to limit individual freedom.  Just look at the opening passage, which is anti-European:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me...”

…and all that David Copperfield kind of crap” (Dickens).

Most European characters define themselves in context of family.  (Chapter one of David Copperfield is called "I am Born," by the way; he even records the day and time: " I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night.").  Holden is revealing none of this.

Holden is saying that he doesn’t define himself with others or the past (birth of the American rebel):

  • Not defined by family (has no parents)
  • Not defined by society (can drink, smoke, solicit prostitutes)
  • Not defined by old world values (name, property, profession)
  • Not defined by old literature (Dickens)
  • Not defined by movies (materialistic entertainment)
  • Not defined by sex (Freudian psycho-analysis)
Read the study guide:
The Catcher in the Rye

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