The Catcher in the Rye Questions and Answers
by J. D. Salinger

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What are some examples of Holden's internal and external conflicts in The Catcher in the Rye?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Holden suffers internal conflict from survivor's guilt over his brother Allie's death. He misses him greatly and is grieved he could not protect him, and this conflict manifests in his actions:

I broke all the windows in the garage. ... I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. I even tried to break all the windows on the station wagon we had that summer, but my hand was already broken and everything by that time ...

This was the only way the thirteen-year-old Holden could deal with the conflicting feelings he experienced of anger, grief, and guilt. Holden's internal conflict over Allie continues to cause him to act out in other ways. For example, he flunks out of or is expelled from a series of bordering schools.

He also has internal conflict over his future. While his father wants him to attend an Ivy League college, Holden dreams instead of being the "catcher in the rye," saving all the little children playing who...

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