Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Don't Be Such a Phony

My friend Emma provided today's topic with this question: which literary character (preferably, but not necessarily outside HP) do you most relate to/why?

I relate most to Holden Caulfield.

I am perhaps too old now for it to be appropriate to relate so much to an angst ridden teenager. I know I'm much more at peace with things now than I was, say, four or five years ago, but still I can't help but wonder what the point is. I often look at society and see that there is just so much dumb ritual and wish things made more sense.

I have a problem with insincerity as well. I don't like people trying to be something their not; whether it is to fit in or avoid fitting in at all costs. I don't like when someone is nicer than they ought to be with me, because they think they need to make me feel better about myself. I don't like people who are people-pleasers who will never disagree with you to your face no matter how ridiculous what you say is.

I really hate playing that game. I don't like lying on anyone's behalf. I'm not going to go along with anything that goes against my against my principals. I hate acting like something makes me happy when in reality it causes me some negative emotion.

I value the motivation for an action as much as I value the action itself. If you aren't doing something for the right reasons, I'd rather you just not do them. Being a martyr doesn't impress me. I find that I'm very skeptical of sincerity and motivation, but they are things that I value dearly.

I can also relate to the grandness of his plans and the general not following through with them. He wants to go out west, but can't bring himself to leave his sister and make her sad. He wants to bang a prostitute, but once she's in the room with him he can't do it. I often find that I make plans that I never go through with. It is usually my anxieties and fears that keep me from fulfilling them.

I think if you just describe Holden Caulfield without reading his story, he sounds like a right bastard. But in reading the Catcher in the Rye you see that he isn't really a bastard at all. I feel like if someone were to right a first person narrative about me the results would be pretty similar. Although that may be speaking too highly of myself.


"When I really worry about something, I don't just fool around. I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about something. Only, I don't go. I'm too worried to go. I don't want to interrupt my worrying to go."

"In my mind, I'm probably the biggest sex maniac you ever saw."

"I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can."

"Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."

I think perhaps the area that I most relate to Caulfield is that we both really fail to meet our ideals. It isn't really possible to avoid becoming at least partially a "phony." I know I often end up being guilty of doing the things I say I despise.

I think I'm similar to the person Holden Caulfield would be five or six years after the story. I still have my ideals, still am mostly cynical, but have moved slowly towards being a realist in some areas.

Angsty post is Angsty/Rambling Post is Rambling


P.S. For Harry Potter the answer would be Hermione Granger

1 comment:

  1. Nothing wrong with a good angsty ramble. The biggest thing I notice in Holden is that nothing ever feels right for him. The only time he ever seems to feel okay is when he's with his sister (I always loved that she's the one to point out to him that he remembers the song incorrectly, thereby telling him that the one thing he wants to be isn't even possible). And when you first read Catcher in the Rye you're thinking "Holy shit, shut the hell up and DO something about it if you're so dissatisfied!" But then you have to ask yourself, how many times do YOU act on your big plans? Not many. I like Holden because we don't want to be like him, but we are. We just want to know where the ducks go when it gets cold. Because sooner or later, it is going to get cold.

    I think Holden would have liked Luna. Luna is the epitome of everything he wants people to be. She is herself. She doesn't strive to be different, she likes what she likes whether or not it sets her apart from everyone else. She has a knack for vocalizing the uncomfortable truths. I always loved what she said about Ron: "He says very funny things sometimes, doesn't he? But he can be a bit mean." (I don't know if that's verbatim, it's from memory). I love it because if you asked a fan of Harry Potter to describe Ron, they probably wouldn't think of or mention the fact that Ron can be a jerk. If they did, they'd say it in a "but we love him for it!" sort of way. Luna just says the truth and somehow never sounds mean doing it.