J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
Happiness, or a lack of it, is J.D. Salinger’s main focus in his literary classic, The Catcher in the Rye. Set in the 1950’s, Salinger writes about an unhappy boy, Holden, who gets kicked out of private prep school many times. Holden roams New York City for three days, finding his only happiness in his kid sister, Phoebe, whom he yearns to see. Holden stays in a hotel, visits various bars, runs into some of his brother’s friends and calls old girlfriends for dates. Holden is never happy by any of his actions, he always returns to Phoebe to glimpse her innocence, but he remains unhappy. Through his character, Holden, Salinger states that unhappiness makes people unable to live among society.
Holden does not allow himself to be happy because he is too caught up in his own negative thoughts and feelings. Holden’s entire week can be spoiled by any event that to any other person may seem minor. During a particularly fun time, before Holden leaves school, snow falls. Holden and his friends decide to ride the bus to the city to eat dinner. Holden was holding a snowball that he had been packing; but the bus driver would not let Holden bring it on the bus. Holden is upset that even though he says he won’t throw the snowball, he is forced to leave it behind. “I told him I wasn’t going to chuck it at anybody, but he wouldn’t believe me. People never believe you” (Salinger 37). Holden could have easily made another snowball when he got off the bus, but instead his entire night is doomed to be terrible because of this small event. Holden can not get past the fact that the bus driver will not believe he is not going to throw the snowball. Holden isn’t happy that it snowed, or that he can have a snowball fight when he gets off the bus if he wants to. Even later in the night, Holden could not be happy; he picked a fight with his roommate, Stradlater, because Stradlater would not tell Holden about his...