Understanding Holden by Monica & Anu


Our structure is based on Holden Caulfield, the main character of Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger.  His interactions with others is conveyed on one side of the structure. While, on the other side, the inspiration is the insight and knowledge the reader gains throughout the book.   The two sides of the structure show both what he says and how the reader knows he actually feels. Holden in an unreliable narrator; he contradicts his own words with the actions he reports.

In one situation, Holden is on the train and runs into the mother of one of the boys that goes to Pency Prep, the school Holden was most recently expelled.  He is friendly with her and has an entire conversation, but he keeps her at a distance. He pushes her out by telling her many lies including giving a false name. Before leaveing Pency prep, Holden gets into a fight with his roommate, Stradlater, over a girl named Jane.  When Holden leaves the room after losing the fight, he goes to talk to a boy in their dorm named Ackley.  When asked what the fight was about, Holden lies and tells Ackley he was fighting for his (Ackley’s) honor.  This shows how he tries to keep to himself and not share his feelings. We decided that this should be shown on the larger side of the structure and it should be closed because this is how most people are able to interact with him and how he reacts to them, in a closed fashion.  Anu, my partner, and I conveyed this in the larger side of the structure by putting in large walls that are intended to make the person feel small and held at a distance, while creating a flow that leads them on.   There is a small chamber between the two main  rooms of the structure. In a way, it is the separator of falsities Holden makes to keep people out and the truth he tries to hide.  In one situation, he says “That hat I bought had earlaps in it, and I put them on--I didn't give a damn how I looked. Nobody was around anyway.”  (Salinger 53) He says he does not care how he looked yet he obviously cared enough to make sure no one was around.  

Holden’s true feelings, especially when he is pushing people out, would fall under the smaller of the two sides. His true emotions tend to seem confused, chaotic, and all over the place; we thought this would best be conveyed with many shapes going in random directions.  My partner and I made this side smaller but open at the top. The reasoning is that less people are able to interact with this side yet the people who do have more of an opening to understand Holden. At one point he tells the reader “I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I was dead.” (J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye).  This information is given only to the reader. This shows that the reader is one of the privileged few who get to know the little truths about Holden that people around him do not.

In my personal opinion, this is a great project.  It gives us, the students, a way to show understanding in a creative, artistic way. The project is not what you expect from an english class, especially not in high school, and is a nice change from boring analytical essays.  I also believe that it makes us think in a more in-depth way about the story. Not only do we have to find examples to support our analysis, but we then have to figure out how to convey that concept in a physical structure without being literal.  In theory, this project sounds like an easy task, however, trying not to be literal proves to be a real challenge.  I’m not one to back down from a challenge and encourage more english classes to try this alternative to essays.

No comments:

Post a Comment