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The Impact of Impulse

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Ray Kulp

Mrs. Gatto, period 5

English 10 H

26 April 2011

The Impact of Impulse

In the real world, mature people tend to think about their decisions before they make them and think of the consequences of their decision and alternatives. On the other hand, immature people are prone to acting on impulse or rather their emotions their feeling at that time without considering the consequences. Holden Caulfield, the main character in The Catcher in the Rye is one of those immature people who make impulsive and significant decisions based off of their emotions rather than reason. He seems to feel a constant sense of loneliness, insecurity, and desperation. Holden is a child who does not want to grow up: a common desire for almost all children. However, Holden is a teenager who is entering young adulthood: therefore, his decisions and thoughts can be seen as childish. He continues to evade places which he is unfamiliar to, but surprisingly he feels comfortable in the presence of strangers. Holden's impulsive decision making is a result of the complexity of his emotions that eventually brings him to his downfall.

Holden's loneliness causes him to do certain things that he wouldn't do otherwise. Because of his chronic loneliness, Holden reaches out to others to satisfy his hunger for attention and love. He doesn't have many people to give him attention, let alone to talk to. He reaches out to people around him such as Ackley who isn't exactly a friend. He goes to Ackley's room after his fight with Stradlater and this is most likely because he was lonely; causing him to turn to a random person for affection. Holden has a difficult time reaching out to people that he knows, but surprisingly he has an easier time reaching out to strangers. Once he leaves Pencey Prep, Holden embarks on a journey back to New York. On the train to the city, he meets a woman named Mrs. Morrow who turns out to be the mother of a boy who he went to school with. He reaches out to her and after they've talked for a little while. He invites her to have a drink with him. This being a woman he barely knows; nevertheless, he tries to have a drink with her. Once he is in the city, Holden reaches out to several strangers such as the cab driver. He asks the driver to join him for drinks even though he doesn't know this man, simply because he is lonely. Later, he reaches out to a woman in the hat-check room at the bar. One could suggest that Holden is simply attracted to almost every woman so he invites a lot of them to have a drink with him except Holden states that he is quite uncomfortable in sexual situations so this poses the idea that he continually asks women to have drinks with him because of his loneliness. Not only does he reach out to adults, but Holden also reaches out to children; Phoebe in particular. Phoebe is a young girl but is made out to be intelligent for her age. He reaches out to her because she is the only family member he has left that accepts him. Holden's continuous attempts for friendship are a result of his loneliness but unfortunately for Holden, these attempts usually don't go as planned and exhibit his inability to make friends.

As previously mentioned, Holden has a distinct inability to make new friends or even enjoy the company of others. The first time this is shown is at Pencey Prep. When the reader meets Holden, he is alone at the top of a hill watching a football game where his fellow classmates are socializing and having fun. "Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game. I remember around three o' clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on top of the Thomsen Hill. You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place" (Salinger 5). Clearly, Holden isn't quite fond of sports, let alone public events. He is alone when he could be down at the game, socializing, and spending time with his classmates. One of the few people Holden actually talks to in Pencey is Ackley, the boy from next door. Ackley isn't too delightful to be around, and Holden mentions he doesn't like being around him too much; however, after Holden and Stradlater get into a fight, Holden goes to Ackley's room and lies in his roommate's bed. One could assume that this was a result of Holden's loneliness: to go to someone's room whom he isn't very fond of and try to start conversation. In addition to his social challenges, Holden unconsciously lets others take advantage: starting with Stradlater, his own roommate. He lets Stradlater borrow his jacket even though he knows Stradlater will stretch it out and he also lets Stradlater talk him into doing his English paper. Holden might've done this because he is a generous, nice person, but the rest of the novel doesn't support that statement. Therefore, one could assume this is because Holden is insecure and could possibly be doing these things in order to gain respect or friendship due to his loneliness. Not only does Holden have difficulty establishing solid friendships in Pencey, but this continues once he reaches the city. He gets denied by almost everyone he tries to be around. He even tries to have a drink with the cab driver. "Well- take me to the Edmont then... Would you care to stop on the way and join be for a cocktail? On me, I'm loaded" (Salinger 79). The cab driver rejects him and this is one of many situations where Holden gets denied and despite all the rejection, he continues to attempt to be in a stranger's company. Unconsciously, Holden might realize that he has a hard time making friends because he told Mr. Spencer "One of the biggest reason [he] left Elkton Hills was because [he] was surrounded by phonies" which might be an excuse for leaving simply because he couldn't make friends and fit in at other schools (Salinger 19). He blames his troubles on phonies and because

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