Are Holden Caufield's actions believably motivated? Explain why or who not and support your claim with examples from the story.I'm having a hard time figuring this out. All help is greatly...

Are Holden Caufield's actions believably motivated? Explain why or who not and support your claim with examples from the story.

I'm having a hard time figuring this out. All help is greatly appreciated!

Asked on by uco

1 Answer | Add Yours

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Holden Caulfield's motivation is a questionable aspect of the novel. He does seem to act erratically as he wanders around New York. Going to New York in the first place is plausibly motivated, since his home is there and he will have to go there sooner or later. But he doesn't seem to have any goal, objective, or direction once he gets to Manhattan. He is always thinking of somebody he might call, and he wakes people up in the middle of the night, many of who are surprised to hear from him. He acts on impulse.

Evidently the author J. D. Salinger intended his plot to be this way. He must have wanted to convey the impression that his young hero was lost in the big city, just as he was lost in his life. The explanation for Holden's apparently random behavior can be found in chapters 19 and 20, where Holden meets with the incompatible pseudo-intellectual Carl Luce at the Wicker Bar and then gets drunk by himself. Luce is impatient and wants to leave. But Holden tries to detain him.

     "Have just one more drink," I told him. "Please. I'm lonesome as hell. No kidding."

Then when Holden is in the men's room he tries to strike up a conversation with the pianist who just comes in to comb his hair. But the man quickly leaves him alone, feeling more miserable than ever because he is drunk, sick from the alcohol he has consumed, and nearly out of money.

     When I finally got down off the radiator and went out to the hat-check room, I was crying and all. I don't khow why, but I was. I guess it was because I was feeling so damn depressed and lonesome.

Holden's actions in the novel can all be explained by his lonelinesss. He is desperately searching for someone--anyone--to talk to and relate with. He is his own worst enemy, because he finds fault with everyone. New York City is hardly the best place to look for friendship. The reader can't help feeling that Holden didn't get in a lot worse trouble than he did.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,916 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question