Explain how The Catcher in the Rye relates to this quote, “Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.”  

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Arthur Miller's quote from The Ride Down Mount Morgan can be applicable to Salinger's work.  In one sense, Holden would probably agree with the quote because it encapsulates his view of society.  In a social setting that is supposedly filled with promise, but is duplicitous in nature, Holden might suggest that being open and honest enough to accept the condition of regret moves an individual away from being a "phony."  Holden's hated of phonies comes from the idea that there is little real and open in such a state of being.  The idea of being honest enough to accept that the sum total of being is the condition of regret would appeal to Holden's endless quest to defy the phony state of being that surrounds society.

Another way in which the work relates to the quote is that it forces a sense of personal reflection and honesty.  Holden's entire being is one of reflection.  The narrative is told to the reader in the form of a reflection.  In examining the quote, reflection about one's life and one's being in the world becomes essential.  The ability for an individual to define who they are and how they have lived is predicated upon reflection.  Holden embodies this as his entire life is reflection.  He has reflected about who he is, the choices he has made, and what has happened along the way.  There is a reflection to this that Holden shares and is found in the quote.

Finally, there is a melancholy in the quote that might be appropriate in Holden's life concerning Phoebe.  One of the reasons that Holden can be seen as complex is because he does not dismiss all of reality.  He loves Phoebe, as she becomes his reason for living.  In his love of Phoebe cast along his vitriol against so much of being, Holden can be seen as melancholic.  He recognizes his condition of consciousness, but also understands that there is a barrier in helping him find true happiness. The quote has a tinge of melancholy to it in how it seeks to make an affirmative statement about being in the world, but also understands that this is virtually impossible given how the world is constructed.  The best one can do is own the regrets and ensure that they are "the right ones."  This melancholic condition is seen in both Holden and the quote.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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