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On Holen’s Inferiority Complex in the Catcher in the Rye

Author ZhangZuo
Tutor LiZuoBo
School Central South University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Salinger The Catcher in the Rye Holden inferiority complex compensation
Type Master's thesis
Year 2009
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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is widely acknowledged as one of the classics in contemporary American literature. The puzzlement and dilemma that the protagonist Holden experiences reflects the general spiritual crisis in the growing process of adolescence. Through a close reading of the novel, the author of this thesis finds that there is obvious inferiority complex in Holden in the course of his helpless and hopeless exploring into and searching for the Self. By employing the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler’s theory of Inferiority Complex, this thesis makes an analysis of the origins and manifestations of Holden’s inferiority complex, and tries to probe into the various means he adopts to compensate for and transcend his inferiority complex.Apart from the introduction and conclusion, this thesis is composed of four chapters. Chapter 1 analyzes the origins of Holden’s inferiority complex, holding that his parents’ indifference, the school’s hypocrisy and the society’s phoniness are the main reasons for his inferiority complex. Chapter 2 mainly examines the internal and external manifestations of Holden’s inferiority complex, among which are inward loneliness and alienation, and outward rebellion against and escape from the society. Being devoid of family care and school’s proper guidance, Holden experiences innermost loneliness, thus consciously alienating himself from others, rebelling against the reality and escaping his social responsibilities. Chapter 3 explores Holden’s compensation for his inferiority complex. Holden attempts to positively compensate for his inferiority feeling by striving for self- esteem and love to enhance his self-confidence. But his failure in these strivings results in his "being-the-catcher-in-the-rye" fantasy so as to satisfy his spiritual pursuit. Chapter 4 aims to explicate Holden’s transcendence of his inferiority complex, which is achieved by returning to the reality and cultivating a certain social interest to establish a new self. This transcendence is, in essence, a realistic compensation for his inferiority complex, and it is in this process of transcendence that Holden gradually gets mature.Inferiority complex is a kind of psychological obstacle which deeply affects adolescents’ physical and mental health and growth. Accordingly, this thesis arrives at the conclusion that family, school and society should give more care, love and guidance to those adolescents with inferiority complex so as to help them get out of dilemma and puzzlement and grow healthily. This is the main reason for the author of this thesis to choose The Catcher in the Rye as the research object, and also might explain for Salinger’s creation of this novel.

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