Theories Of Catcher In The Rye's Holden Caulfield

1988 Words 8 Pages
Erik Erikson was an ego psychologist that was interested how culture, society, conflicts affect the ego. The ego refers to one’s sense of self-importance, self-esteem, and personal identity. According to Erikson, the ego develops only as well as it resolves certain social conflicts throughout life. His theory involves eight stages and a major crisis occurs in each stage that one has to overcome the ego to develop properly. Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield lacks personal identity and self-esteem. Erik Erikson’s theory helps to better understand Holden’s issues with his ego.

Stage 1 is “Trust vs Mistrust” and it occurs from birth to eighteen months of age. A newborn will look to their caregiver for stability and consistency of care. An
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Children are now learning to read, write and learn fundamentals. They have a new challenge of balancing social and academic demands. Encouragement and success will lead to the child feeling confident to achieve their goals. Restriction and failure will lead to feelings of doubt in their ability to reach their aspirations. If a child cannot develop a specific skill they feel society is demanding, they may develop a sense of inferiority. Although, some failure is necessary to develop modesty. The child needs to find what they are skilled in and realize they cannot be perfect in every skill. Balance in this stage will lead to the virtue of competence. Holden isn’t really skilled in anything. He lacks the talents that are viewed as “important” for people his age; such as, academic success, being athletic and be able to have many friends. Holden associates skill with arrogance and cannot separate the two. For example, Ernie, the piano player, is a phony because he’s too skillful. Holden feels he has no true skill causing him to feel inferior to everyone in some …show more content…
Young adults begin to share themselves more intimately with others, eventually exploring longer term commitments. Healthy relationships lead to the sense of commitment, safety and care between two people. After stage 5 of focusing on oneself and one’s own future, now one will focus on another’s well-being. Success in this stage leads to the virtue of love. This stage can be scary, some may avoid intimacy and fear commitment. This may lead to isolation, loneliness, and depression. Holden is two years away from this stage but still has issues with both intimacy and isolation. “Sex is something I really don’t understand” (Salinger 63). Holden doesn’t understand intimacy and he never had a relationship with commitment. He describes himself as “lonesome and depressed” multiple times throughout the book. He attempts to make conversation with people or make plans: the three girls at the breakfast table, prostitute over the phone, Jane, Sally, Sunny and Carl Luce. The outcome of all these interactions wasn 't successful. They all resulted in Holden being lonesome or depression once and again. Holden thinks he will be less lonely if he’s around other people but what he really needs is to get to know himself and appreciate his own company. Until he achieves this, he will suffer in stage 6 in the

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