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Catcher in the Rye

In J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, the main character, Holden Caulfield’s apparent madness and irrational behavior plays an important role.

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The decisions that Holden makes at the time seem un-normal and irrational to characters in the novel, but to the reader they seem wise and reasonable. One example of this behavior is the way Holden treats women. Throughout the novel he has the temptation to be with women, but he can resist his urges. He doesn’t want to be with a girl, just to be with a girl, Caulfield actually wants it to mean something.

At the time people would have thought Holden was mad for passing up some of his opportunities with women, but when a reader reads about it, they feel like Holden is making the right decision. This helps the reader to believe that Holden is mature. When Holden donates the ten dollars he has to the nuns, some people may think that that was a large amount of money to spend on something, in which you get no gift out of. Even though Holden didn’t receive something physically back, he did receive something back mentally.

Since he had felt guilty for the night before, he wanted to pay off his guilt. To some people it may seem “mad” to pay off your guilt, but to Holden it was what he needed to do. Madness can be determined differently through other peoples eyes, what one person may think is what is considered “mad”, another may find completely normal. The difference and the significance of the “madness” in the novel work as a whole because it shows how not thinking like everyone else isn’t a bad thing.

Holden has a mind of his own, and he uses it to his advantage, making him a stronger and more independent individual. Holden carries himself in a very unique way, some people may think his decision are irrational, and some may think they are completely logical. Analyzing how “madness” works, and how “madness” is seen through different peoples eyes is difficult, but when it comes down to it, it is always going to be seen differently.