Student Samples

 

HOLDEN'S SCRAPBOOK SAMPLE ANALYSIS

*Notice that the analysis has been broken down into topic paragraphs and has used direct quotes to illustrate the specifics.

 

Allie’s Baseball Mitt

 

Allie’s baseball mitt is a very important to Holden. It represents Holden’s connection to Allie, his younger brother who dies of leukemia when Holden is only thirteen; this mitt is souvenir Holden cherishes to remember his special brother. Allie is, after all, one of Holden’s favorite people in the world and one of the few he respects. He considers him the nicest, smartest and sweetest person in the family. Allie represents the innocence of childhood which Holden values. Because he died at such a young age, he will forever be frozen as a sweet, perfect innocent who never became phony, which Holden later comes to understand is simply a by product of growing up.

Since his brother’s death, Holden has had difficulty communicating with not only other family members, but also others. It begins with the traumatic episode itself, when Holden learns that Allie has died. Rather than mourn with the family in the home, he resorts to violence and isolation as a coping mechanism. He says, “I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddamn windows with my fist, just for the hell of it” (39). Retreating to the garage is symbolic of Holden’s self-imposed isolation, which becomes one of his primary problems as he enters adolescence. His brother’s death begins his descent into depression, beginning with this night. He finds no other method of expressing himself than by violent physical behavior that only causes permanent damage to his own left hand. This is symbolic of the permanent scarring his heart endures.

One can see how Holden has trouble communicating with others through his choices of how to solve his problems. Throughout his narrative, he demonstrates his ability to isolate himself from others; he does so by not “playing the game” with his fencing teammates, by not watching the football game with others but from a hilltop, by flunking out of school (again), and reaching out to people who do not care about him, such as the three girls at the bar who only want his money or a prostitute who does not want to talk to him either.

In many ways, the mitt is a museum piece, which Holden preserves as a piece of history that should not be forgotten. It is covered in writing in green pen, poems that Allie had written. It is by no small coincidence that Holden loves the museum in New York City, where “certain things should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone” (122), Holden says.  It is also evident that Holden always remembers his brother and tries to keep his memory alive. Holden keeps the mitt safe, like a personal museum piece, and it is only with Jane and Stradlater that he tries to express his love and hurt that surrounds the death. Jane, who has her own set of pains to deal with, is a perfect person to share this with; however, Stradlater, the insensitive type, is not. When he is beginning to write the composition for Stradlater, who simply wants to use Holden’s English skills, he thinks about the mitt: “Old Allie’s baseball mitt. I happened to have it with me, in my suitcase, so I got it out and copied the poems that were written on it.” (39) The fact that he has this precious object with him at boarding school is enough to show that he cares deeply for his lost brother and wants to remember him. Also, his choice to write a composition about the mitt shows that he is still thinking about Allie and that deep down, he really wishes to express his feelings, although he does not know the right way to do so. Unfortunately, Stradlater can not understand Holden’s message, and Holden reacts once again with violence by tearing the paper, thus isolating himself again from the coping with the pain properly.

 

ORIGINAL POETRY/MUSIC SAMPLE

1. “Memories” (an original song by James Pyo)

           

I wanna tell you about this girl from way back.

I know she’s still around but to me she only lives in my past.

Jane wasn’t a pretty girl, but wasn’t ugly either,

Don’t know what I would say if today I happened to meet her.

We used to play checkers all the time, she lived next door,

Kept her kings in the back row don’t know what she did that for.

We were nothing more than friends in the end, we went our separate ways,

And I hadn’t thought about her since until this day.

By some twist of fate, my roommate was going on a date,

And I almost passed out when I heard that his girl was Jane.

I didn’t have the nerve to go down and say hi.

Wondered if she’d recognize me if I passed by.

To tell you the truth, we were closer than most friends.

Talked all the time and in the movies we would hold hands.

It was a childhood romance the innocence couldn’t last forever,

But no matter how hard I tried I could never forget her.

 

Memories of my past, of friends I used to have,

Come back and then I see that most of them didn’t last.

Except for one with one girl, one heart, and one soul,

What could have happened if we stayed together is untold.

Memories of my past, of friends I used to have,

Come back and then I see that most of them didn’t last.

Except for one with one girl, one heart, and one soul,

What could have happened if we stayed together is untold.

 

Her dad was a good-for-nothing booze hound.

She started crying one day, what should I do now?

I tried to comfort her I don’t know why she started crying,

But then it started to rain, like tears falling from the sky, then

We got closer, and then I started to kiss her.

The more I think about it, the more I started to miss her.

then she got up and acted like nothing happened,

And then we went to the movies and there we held hands.

That was the closest we ever got, wasn’t about sex,

It was strange, and it felt like something that we should expect.

I wondered what was next, but nothing came.

Just kept on playing chess, another game.

So now I wonder if I should go down and meet her.

Then there’s the dilemma of how I should go and greet her.

Hi? Hello? Its been a long time? How are you?

How could I explain everything to her?

 

Memories of my past, of friends I used to have

Come back and then I see that most of them didn’t last.

Except for one with one girl, one heart, and one soul,

What could have happened if we stayed together is untold.

 

One person who comes up as a link to Holden’s past is Jane Gallagher. She was his next door neighbor, and they would often play chess. Their relationship was loving, bordering on the edge of romantic. They display maturity in their affectionate displays of hand-holding and hugging. She was the only one that Holden constantly wants to call and talk to throughout the course of the novel. This seems like a very important relationship to Holden, and it is beneficial to explore it. I wrote this piece as a look into Holden’s mind when he learned that Stradlater was going to go on a date with Jane. It displays his internal conflict wit wanting to see Jane, but not wanting to be awkward after such a long time. This conflict eventually ends with Holden staying upstairs without saying hello to Jane.

 

HOLDEN'S Mix CD/Soundtrack SAMPLE ANALYSIS

*Notice that the analysis has been broken down into topic paragraphs and has used direct quotes to illustrate the specifics.

 

Dr. Dre – “The Message”

 

[Dr. Dre]
This one is for my brother, Tyree, R.I.P.
A message to God

[Dr. Dre]
Since you finishinem early, what posessed you to start him?
We made a vow - later we'll regret til death do us part
Lord, I thought we was made for each other
You shouldn't connect those, made to be taken away from each other
Now what I'm supposed to do? I'm only half the man that I was
I'll never last, cause my better half is up there with you
You knew what you was doin when you made us; so with all due respect
you coulda forgave him, you didn't have to take him
He can take the game with him, cause he defines the word
The one who puts the G in it, who you think put me in it?
I'm feelin like my whole world is blinded - wonderin why
Cryin, pourin out my heart, pourin out liquor behind it
We fought like brothers, somethin we never should do
We coulda used time spent arguin tellin the truth
He had talent too - I had plans on watchin him grow
Don't know what hurts more - seein him leave, or watchin him go

[Mary J. Blige]
Listen listen listen.. (listen) whoahh (listen)
Listen listen listen.. (better listen) whoahh-oahhh-oahhh
Listen listen listen.. [harmonizing]
Listen.. mmm-mmm-mmm

[Rell + (Mary)]
If you wanna know why.. (why I live my life)
The way that I do.. (cause I got to get this money)
So don't worry about me.. (cause I know my way around)
I'm just hustlin everyday, runnin this race, makin this paper

[Dr. Dre]
Youse a soldier, you're probably packin heat up there
Met up with homies from the street, and got deep up there
If you only knew the way I felt before they ruined the crew
I thought I learned from Eazy, now I'm goin through it with you
We lost a thug, a son, and a father
I spoke to your son, the other day, and told him Uncle Dre got him
The Lord must be accidentally pulling your file
cause I'm still paging you, 911, straight in denial
Prayin you get it, but no man can choose the card he was dealt
You either quit, or you gon' play it like you get it
I done been through all emotions, from in shock, to keepin a poker face
to straight breakin down and showin all emotions
I'm anxious to believe in real G's don't cry
If that's the truth, then I'm realizin I ain't no gangsta
It's just not me, but you know I'ma always ride wit you
I miss you, sometimes I wish I just died wit you

[Mary J. Blige]
Listen listen listen.. (listen) whoahh (listen)
Listen listen listen.. whoahh-oahhh-oahhh
Listen listen listen.. [harmonizing]
Listen.. eyy-eyy-eyy-yeah-yeahh

[Rell + (Mary)]
If you wanna know why.. (why I live my life)
The way that I do.. (cause I got to get this money)
So don't worry about me.. (don't worry, don't worry worry)
I'm just hustlin everyday, runnin this race, makin this paper

[Mary J. Blige]
yeah, yeah, ahhh-oooh-oahahahhhhh.. listen..
mmmmmmmmmhmhmhmmmmmm..
if you don't know why I.. you gotta listen up right now
lis-ten, lis-ten, lis-ten, lis-ten..
oooooooooh... oahahoooohhh ooooha ohhhhh
lis-ten, lis-ten
ahhhowooooo yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah
yeah-ehh-yeah, yeah-ooeooooh
yahhooooohahhooooh listen
lis-ten, children lis-ten
I'm tryin to tell you somethin good
Don't get caught up in the hood
Yeahhh-hah, yeahhh-hah, aooooooh
if you don't know why..
you gotta find out the reason why..
brother.. brother..

 

 

            Once of the only people that Holden truly respects is Allie, his younger brother. Since Allie died early due to leukemia, Holden went into depression, isolating himself from his friends and family. He says of his brother: “You’d have liked him. He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent…He was also the nicest, in lots of ways. He never got mad at anybody” (38). Allie’s death plummets Holden into a way of thinking that causes him nothing but misery. Everyone is either innocent or phony, and innocence is what Holden respects.

Dr. Dre experienced a similar tragedy when he lost his younger brother, and wrote “The Message” as a letter to God questioning his brother’s death. He writes, “Lord, I thought we was made for each other/You shouldn’t connect those, made to be taken way from each other. Now what I’m supposed to do?/ I’m only half the man that I was, I’ll never last, ‘cause my better half is up there with you.” Dre feels lost without his better half and does not understand how God can allow such deep connections simply to then remove it. This can be connected to Holden, who seems to be incapable of coping with his loss. After Allie’s death, Holden went through a period of depression, when, “I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it…It was a very stupid thing to do, I’ll admit, but I hardly didn’t even know I was doing it, and you didn’t know Allie” (39). Deep love causes him to lash out, ultimately hurting himself.

Holden mourns and shows his grief of his loss of his brother through self-destructive behaviors, much as does, when he writes, “I’m feelin’ like my whole world is blinded/ wonderin’ why, cryin’, pourin’ out my heart, pourin’ out liquor behind it…/I done been through all emotions, from in shock, to keeping a poker face, to straight breakin’ down and showin’ all emotions.” Dre tries to keep a “poker face,” meaning he does not want others to know how much pain he feels, like Holden, who also does not  let others really into his pain. Both experience similar tragedies, and express their mourning with an outpouring of their emotions.

Holden spends his runaway time avoiding real relationships while at the same time searching for a home and a person to talk to. His behavior is conflicted, creating a circle of difficulty for himself, but he does not want help from those who could really help, namely his parents. He does not want to worry his mother more, as she is already so fragile and brittle since Allie’s death. Similarly, Dre says, “If you wanna know why.. (why I live my life)/ The way that I do.. (cause I got to get this money)/So don't worry about me.. (don't worry, don't worry worry)/I'm just hustlin every day, runnin this race, makin this paper.” He does not want others to worry about him either, and he tries to live his life doing what he has to in order to get by. Yet, like for Holden, we the reader can not help to be worried as we note his pained mental state.

            Holden’s believes that innocence is better than phoniness, which causes him even more difficulty as he grows and becomes aware of it. He tries to find his place in a world of phonies but finds that he can only be real with those who are innocent; it’s a catch-22: he has to be phony in order to function with society, but he wants to be innocent. Dre, like Holden, has his own message for children in his neighborhood whoa re dying because of poor choices. He says,“Lis-ten, children lis-ten/I'm tryin to tell you somethin good/Don't get caught up in the hood.” Holden, a child himself dos not want ot be caught up in the community of phonies, and Dre warns children to not get trapped by their community of violence. While the message is at surface is different, both are warnings to children of what to avoid when growing up and make the right choices.