La Mare au Diable


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George Sand

Holden Caulfield—Holden has often been described as an emblem of teenage angst. But there is more to the boy than what a mere label can tell. Holden is actually a very astute young man. While he does not have what might be called a heart of gold, he does have a heart. Unfortunately that heart has had to experience some very serious misfortunes. Like the David Copperfield from whom Holden tries to distance himself, he too must learn some life lessons. However, while David’s lesson is that the heart must be disciplined as well as the head, Holden’s lesson appears to be less clear. In fact, Holden spends much of the novel simply trying to come to terms with the loss of his brother Allie and the much bigger problem represented by the loss of innocence in general. Holden flirts with theological speculation briefly—but what he really seeks is a companion. For this reason, it is unfair to assert that Holden is anti-social. He is not anti-social at all—nor is he really a poster-boy for rebellion. Holden is simply looking for something genuine—something that has not sold out for material gain or for smug, self-satisfaction.

Phoniness is Holden’s only hatred. He is trying to understand reality and the way things are—and he cannot stand when people act in fake manner with a disregard to their true natures. He also insists upon manners in almost every occasion, even if he does not always show the best manners himself.

Holden’s favorite person in the world is his younger ten-year-old sister Phoebe. She is smart, funny, and does not care for silly rules. She truly cares a lot deal for Holden. She treasures his gifts to her and wants him to do well. It is her pressure that inspires his epiphany—that what he truly wants to do in life is help preserve its innocence, beauty, and charm. The particulars—like how—are still beyond him, but he at least is given some purpose and direction—even if it is higher and more abstract than ordinary callings.

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