The Mitt of the Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger With Docent Isabelle deBruler

Players, usually catchers, in sports like baseball use their mitts to do their job by playing the game.  In the Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield uses his own ideals to determine how he does his job as a student and human being.  They're his own "glove" or "mitt" as they help decide the outcome of his work.  In this gallery, take a look into the mind and motives of Holden Caulfield.

Synopsis: After being expelled from the elite high school Pencey Prep, Holden Caulfield spends time in New York City and awaits his mother’s wrath. This may not be the first time he’s been expelled, but it is a time of new beginnings for him. Because they both depict some sort of beginning (the artwork shows the very start of construction of a house) this piece is similar to The Catcher in the Rye.
Selected Epigraph: "Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist." - George Carlin Cynic: someone who believes that the only motivation for other people is their self-interest, rather than morals This entire piece accurately depicts cynics, like Holden Caulfield, and the quote above. The head has two partial faces; one screams or yells, and the face on the right regards the other and its surroundings with suspicion. The left face may be yelling about its own ideals, and the right face may be criticizing its surroundings, as the quote explains.
Universal Themes: Change, Coming of Age, and Acceptance Although the reasons why are not disclosed, Holden detests the idea of interacting with others or growing up. Before the story occurs, he comes to the conclusion that almost everyone in the world is a “phony”, and he refuses to change his mind about that. Multiple characters point this out throughout the story, like Sally, Mr. Antolini and Phoebe, meaning that most people are completely content with society (at least, at that time). Holden has already made his own assumptions about life, and because he refuses to attempt to see any other good around him, he is unable to change until someone actually tells him. After speaking to Mr. Antolini, it is made clear that Holden will not be happy if he keeps that mindset; he will never be able to make any kind of progress. If he wants to have a truly successful life, he needs to lose his childish stubbornness and accept society as it is, or actively try to change it. There are definitely faults in adulthood and society itself, but one cannot just turn his back on the world because of that; if that occurs, then he both hinders his own future and the future of all those around him. This relates to the piece because it shows both exactly how Holden depicts the world and what it actually is not. He sees everyone as mannequins who both have no intellect and always conform with whatever is popular at the time. People, however, are much more than that; they all have their own problems, experiences, and minds, no matter how bad or terrible they may seem. They’re much more than the human-shaped targets on this piece.
Tone: Cynical By the time Holden is expelled from Pencey, he already believes that the world is a terrible place; he already has given up on appreciating it. Frequently, he calls people “phonies” and expresses his own animosity toward people and society in general. The piece that represents the tone of The Catcher in the Rye depicts an animal screaming, which is the most accurate depiction of how cynical people feel about the world; they’re so disgusted by it that they can hardly bear even living in that type of environment.
Historical Setting: New York City (1949) The Catcher in the Rye takes place during the 1940s in New York City, as shown in this etching. At this time, many people spent their time watching shows and pictures during the day while going to bars at night. This contributes majorly to the plot of The Catcher in the Rye as it enables Holden to waste time with all of the activities and sites. Without it, he would not have had the same things to do after being expelled from Pencey, so he would have had much different experiences.
Connection: Text to World In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield sees almost everyone as fake or shallow. It is sort of like our world, where some people spend their time gossiping about others and coming up with lies behind their backs. There is also the media, who focuses on the most idiotic and shallow things, like the love lives of celebrities and the fashion choices of a presidential candidate. They cover up anything of importance. It’s just so artificial, just like this piece. It has the extravagant lights, like a normal city, but everyone looking at it knows that it’s not real at all, just a computer-generated box.
Day in the Life Journal: Representation of Holden Caulfield: His Mindset Holden calls almost everyone other than his family that he encounters throughout the story a “phony”, and he generally dislikes the prospect of growing up. As Mr. Antolini points out, Holden does have his own wishes and dreams, but by the time the story begins, he has given up on them. He has a general animosity toward most people and the culture of the time period, but he is the only one in the story that feels the same way; no other character ever mentions anything wrong with it all, so there must be something good about the world they live in. Holden looks past all of the wonderful, colorful things in life. It’s similar to this painting in which a man stands smoking, seemingly not noticing the colors in front of him and most likely thinking of the faded scene in the background. Holden still has his own dreams, but he refuses to actually acknowledge the good parts of life.
Mandala: Representation of Holden Caulfield: His Words After the first few pages of the novel, it becomes apparent that Holden curses and insults others without restraint. Not only that, but when he spends time with his younger sister, he freely calls other people names. With his nondescript physical appearance and (somewhat) friendly facade, one of his most distinguished traits is that he is always saying or thinking relatively rude statements. It is the way he verbally and mentally expresses his contempt toward the world. Although the subject looks nothing like him, who is seventeen years old, this painting is similar to Holden in the fact that something almost repulsive comes out of his mouth.
Symbolism: Holden's Hunting Hat Prior to the story, Holden purchases a red hunting hat that he occasionally wears and ultimately gives to his sister, Phoebe. While he travels through the city, he uses it as a shelter. When he is nervous, he uses it to hide from others; when it is cold outside, he uses it for warmth. After he speaks to Phoebe and gives it to her, he shows that he is ready to finally leave his school, family, and life. He then comes up with a plan to move away and work at a gas station, and he seems ready to follow through with it. The hunting hat is both literally and metaphorical his shelter. This piece depicts a man with his eyes covered, protecting him from seeing the dark landscape around him. Holden’s hat is the same way as it enables him to hide.
Conflict: Holden vs. Himself From Holden’s point of view, almost everyone around him is the antagonist. However, none of his own problems are anyone else’s fault. Holden is expelled from Pencey because he refuses to apply himself and put any effort into his studies. His sadness originates from his loneliness, which is caused by him driving away others by insulting them or having bizarre ideas. Not only that, but the conflict and themes are related. The Catcher in the Rye tells readers not to be presumptuous about others, or else it is impossible to make progress and mature; Holden is unable to move on from his own sadness because of his own assumptions about life. The one person that is truly hurting him is his own self, so the conflict is between Holden and himself. This painting represents Holden’s sadness literally as his depression is caused by loneliness. His own presumptuousness, which drives others away, contributes to the conflict. This piece depicts a side effect of the major factor that contributes to creating the conflict.
Credits: All media
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