The past of an individual can shape them into an altogether different person, whether it be for the better or for the worse. There have been different examples of this throughout time. In the book Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. There are multiple examples of this being the case, The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Holden is a sixteen-year-old junior who has just been expelled for academic failure from a school called Pencey Prep. Although he is intelligent and sensitive, Holden narrates in a cynical and jaded voice.
He finds the hypocrisy and ugliness of the world around him almost unbearable, and through his cynicism he tries to protect himself from the pain and disappointment of the adult world. However, the criticisms that Holden aims at people around him are also aimed at himself. He is uncomfortable with his own weaknesses, and at times displays as much phoniness, meanness, and superficiality as anyone else in the book.
As the novel opens, Holden stands poised on the cliff separating childhood from adulthood. His inability to successfully negotiate the chasm leaves him on the verge of emotional collapse. (Sparknotes) (Catcher In The Rye character list) Holdens past is the main contributor to his very dysfunctional personality and characteristics. The story revealed events from his earlier life that would be understandable to have such effects on him. A notable one would be the death of his brother, Allie. Holden always described Allie as the golden boy when he talked about him, smart, loyal, sympathetic, funny everything you would look for in a man despite Allie being the younger brother. He envied him so, but he did not dislike him for being such a noble person, he would enjoy spending time with his brother, watching him play his baseball games, etc. Unfortunately his brother Allie passed away from Leukemia. And the loss of his favorite person devastated holden he would no longer allow himself to grow a deep connection with anyone, instead he would make such hasty judgments on everyone and compare them to Allie. No one was safe from his judgments, not even his own brother D.B. which holden claims has made stories about prostitution and his involvement with prostitutes. Holden views the world as a dark place and sees everyone as a phony, such as Stradlater when he went on a date with Jane who Holden happens to have a past relationship with, whether it was jealousy or his puree hatred for the world Holden brought himself to hate Stradlater for taking Jane on a date, so much that he attempted to punch Stradlater in the face when he arrived back but Stradlater just pinned Holden on the floor and fortunately did not retaliate. Another demon from Holdens past that also haunts him is the suicide of James Castle at Elkton Hills which he witnessed happen right in front of him, already having such cruel views on the world, the suicide of James Castle served as a way to confirm his perceptions that the world is such a bad place full of phonies that people would rather remove themselves from it. He relates to James and comes to understand why he would take such preposterous actions. Despite this being the case Holden would never bring himself to commit suicide as he does not believe in it being the right decision to make. These events led to Holdens inability to cope with adult situations and rather than handling them reasonably he forces himself back into a childlike mindset where the world and everyone around him is unfit unless they correspond to his vision of correct. An example of this being true is his date with Sally Hayes, an attractive girl whom Holden has known for a long time. In chapter seventeen, he says, “I felt like marrying her the minute I saw her,” and then ricochets from annoyance to attraction as he suggests a farfetched plan where they run away from their lives, in New York, to a cabin. After Sally rejects his offer Holden’s callous response reveals, once again, that he is ill equipped to make any level of connection with people or comes to a means of understanding with them.