In Catcher in the Rye, how does Holden remember his own childhood?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Holden Caulfield is the classic disaffected youth, disappointed in adults and their world. Because he is so cynical about adults and what he considers their phoniness, Holden retreats into his memories and his desire to be innocent again. His constant recalling of his beloved brother Allie, who died from leukemia, indicates his desire to return to the past and recapture Allie's stability and creative presence, as well as the ability to love him again. Also, Holden wishes to return to the past because he feels a certain amount of guilt since Allie has died. He recalls the kindness of his brother and feels regret for times that he did not allow Allie to play with him, and he feels guilty about missing Allie's funeral because he damaged his hands when he broke out the garage windows in anger at Allie's untimely death. At times, he even speaks aloud to Allie. For instance, in Chapter 25, Holden starts to feel that as he walks in New York, when he steps off a curb he may disappear.

I thought I'd just go down, down, down, and nobdy'd ever see me again....Every time I'd get to the end of a block I'd make believe I was talking to my brother Allie. I'd say to him, "Allie, don't let me disappear.... Please, Allie."

Holden is very fond of his little sister Phoebe because she is extremely bright, honest, and a child. After he is expelled, he visits Phoebe one night, feeling a need to talk with her and experience her honesty. But he leaves as he realizes that she has her own life to live.

Apparently, there are feelings of insecurity that trouble Holden now, along with his other feelings. For one thing, there is little mention of his parents; certainly, he is lonely as he repeats the word lonesome many times.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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