Rebel Against Society


Rebel Against Society Essay, Research Paper

In J.D. Salinger?s, The Catcher in the Rye, the novel tries to capture the adolescent life in a hyper-sensitive form, dramatizing Holden Caulfield as the main character who is known to be a ?rebel against society.? Holden Caulfield, a seventeen-year-old boy, believes in protecting the innocent. He strongly believes in saving the innocence of children who yet not know adulthood. Especially the innocence of his little sister because he lost his brother who he believes lost his innocence when he died. Holden wants the innocence of children to be frozen behind that glass just like the figures in the exhibit are preserved in the museum where he goes to find his little sister Phoebe. He tries to play the role of a hero trying to protect the citizens (children) from the monster (adult). Holden doesn?t want to grow up yet because he believes that once you grow up, you become ?phony?, a word that Holden uses constantly throughout the book in describing adults and people who are prejudice, hypocrites or insincere, but at the same time he is moving to adulthood yet he doesn?t want to except reality. For example, when Holden shows two boys where the Egyptian section in the museum is located, he finds that he is walking down a dark hallway. The two boys are afraid and run back but Holden continues forward. This represents how Holden is moving forward from childhood into adulthood but the two little boys are not yet ready to make such a move. He?s against the adult world in which he forcefully has to live in and that is why he rebels against the adult world, and society. For trying to make children grow up and for all the ?phony? things that surround him. Even if it?s friends, parents, adults, etc. Holden Caulfield is portrayed as a typical teenager who rebels against society, parents, teachers, school, and other adults. Trying to be independent and act like an adult, but adults restrict him. Adults tell teenagers what to do and how to act which Holden doesn?t approve of. Holden rejects the ideas and values that the society sets. Adults in society always place a great emphasis on education, but Holden does not think it is important. As a result, he rebels and does not do his work:

They kicked me out. I wasn’t supposed to come back after Christmas vacation, on account of I was flunking four subjects and not applying myself and all. They gave me frequent warnings to start applying myself – especially around midterms, when my parents came up for a conference with old Thurmer – but I didn’t do it. So I got the axe.

Even though the adults tell Holden to apply himself, he does not. He does what he wants to, not caring what adults think. Holden also rebels against adult society by complaining of its “phoneyness.” One thing he thinks is phoney is how everyone acts like discussing the Lunts sophisticates them. Since Holden thinks society is phoney, he tries not to act like everyone else. He also criticizes them. He rebels by not having the same opinions as everyone else. In addition, Holden drinks, smokes, and swears to rebel. Teenagers are not supposed to do these things, but he does anyway. Marcuse?s theory applies to Holden because of his constant rebelling of society. Marcuse?s theory states that if there is no strong father figure, then you must rebel against society its self and that is exactly what Holden shows throughout this novel. He doesn?t talk much about his parents. Only in the beginning of the novel he says ?They’re nice and all? which implies that he tries not to disrespect them, but yet he does not praise them. Even though he is a ?rebel against society?, he still tries to be the protector of innocence.

In the film, Rebel Without a Cause, we are presented with an adolescent that is a ?rebel against society.? Jim Stark, a rebellious adolescent, can?t stand being called ?chicken? because that is somewhat implying that he is like his father and that isn?t what he wants: “I’ll tell you one thing, I don’t ever want to be like him.” His father is portrayed as a weak father and husband. Although he loves his father, he wishes his henpecked, ineffectual “chicken” father would one day stand up to his domineering mother who is only concerned about keeping up an image of respectability, ? …if he had guts to knock Mom cold once, then maybe she’d be happy and then she’d stop pickin’ on him, because they make mush out of him.? In the film, Jim returns home and finds his frilly apron-clad father ludicrously positioned on his knees on the upstairs landing cleaning up a spilled tray of food. He was on his way to the bedroom with a meal for his wife who doesn’t feel well. His cowardly father is not willing to admit the accident to his mother: “Shhh. Listen, I’d better, better clean it up before she sees it.” Jim tells his father: “Let her see it.” It?s a very powerful use of non-verbal communication, hesitating, and incomplete sentences, Jim pleads with his dad to stand and be a man. His father failed to be strong role model and fails to guide Jim in being a man. Jim can?t stand being labeled as a ?chicken? and that is why he ?messed a kid up? because he called Jim a ?chicken. That was one reason they moved and the then there?s the protection that the parents try to have on him. They want to protect Jim from harm. Jim is later challenged with a serious decision and seeks for advice from his father. His father hastily tries to avoid the question of honor. Confused in the process of growing up, Jim wants immediate, real, direct, clear answers from his indecisive father, asking him about what it means to be a man who must go and prove himself, but Jim’s father drones on about avoiding confrontation of any kind while Jim get?s dressed. Later on throughout the film, Jim is dealt with a death and decides to tell the police the part he played in the death. Once he tells his parents, they reply with concern and the negative publicity the will have. His mother decides to move again, but Jim objects to it and tells that she won?t tear him loose. In a dramatic scene, Jim, his father, and mother are all part of an argument which later turns out to be a matter of honor. Jim blames his mother for trying o blame everything on him. Whenever she can?t face herself, she blames it on him or the neighborhood. He doesn?t want her to run away from him and he wants to do the right thing. He turns to his dad and tells his dad to give him something, in other words to help him out. But his father cowardly doesn?t stand up to his wife. Jim repeatly tells his father to stand up to his mother, but his father is powerless and impotent, his head buried in his hands. Jim lunges, pulls his father from his chair and stands him up, drags him into the living room, knocks him down over another chair and chokes him until his mother pulls on him to stop. At the porch doors, he viciously kicks a hole in a portrait painting that stands on the floor – a symbol of his contempt for his parents and for their decorative pretense. Jim?s feelings towards his father have an effect on that it enables him to rebel against society. In a romantic scene, Jim and Judy engage in a conversation that questions what a girl want in a person. Her response to him is someone ?gentle and sweet.? She actually describes Jim?s father, and Jim later starts to understand his father and begins to accept him for what he is. At the end of the film, Jim fails to protect his friend, Plato, and is faced with the disaster – a mini-lesson on the tremendous responsibilities and problems inherent in raising another human being. By peacefully attempting to avoid confrontation and coming to an identification with his father, Jim finally becomes more adult-like and accepting of both himself and his parents. For the first time, Jim’s father tells his son that they will face things together and he will stand by him. At the end, Jim and his father reconcile and embrace. This also applies to Marcuse?s theory of the strong father figure. Since Jim didn?t have a strong father figure he can rebel against, he took all his frustration and anger out on society. Jim can?t except the fact that his father is weak and tries to be the man of the family by trying to be a ?rebel against society.?

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