5 January 2011
Synthesis Essay: The Catcher in the Rye
A parallel can be drawn between J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Harold and Maude, directed by Hal Ashby. Harold Chasen and Holden Caulfield, the two main characters are similar and they’re different from each other. These two boys are very wealthy and are both consumed with the concept of death, they alienate themselves and they both have saviors. However, at the end of the book Holden isn’t saved from himself, whereas Harold is.
Harold and Holden both have psychological issues that they seem to be unaware of. Harold Chasen is literally obsessed with death. He fakes his death numerous times for his mother to see, he hangs himself, he covers a room with fake blood, he pretends to chop his hand off and he blows himself up. This is a cry for attention. As long as his mother is paying attention to him, he’s content. Also, his only hobby is attending funerals, which is strange for an 18 year old boy. Holden Caulfield is obsessed with death too. He is irreparably damaged from the deaths in his life and so he’s fixated on them. The greatest loss to him was the death of his younger brother Allie. He can’t move past that. He’s been depressed ever since. He sometimes pretends that he’s dying and stumbles around. Obviously, Holden and Harold are mentally ill
These two protagonists alienate themselves and they put up this impenetrable wall around themselves. Even though Harold never voices it, he doesn’t want to date girls his mother finds. Being the theatric that he is, he scares them off, one-by-one. No effort is made to even get to know the girls a little. He shuts himself off from the world and refuses to be a part of it. Holden is much like him. Inside, he secretly craves the companionship of others but he never lets them in. He strikes up conversations with nuns and taxicab drivers but hardly talks to anyone his own age; he’s too...