For our first summative. Our English class was assigned to interpret creatively (without limitation to the medium of presentation), a scene from the novel Catcher in the Rye. In my case, I decided to change perspective and focus more on Holden's parents.
For my creative interpretation of the Catcher in the Rye, the focus is shifted on to Holden Caulfield's parents. To commence with, the scene is set to a formal Party that takes place in Norwalk, Connecticut. Through repetition of actions such as shaking hands, laughing, and smiling, I tried to give a sense of the carefully crafted elegance within the people when dealing with others, especially those of a higher class. The social class in which those gathered in this party belongs to, is definitely towards the higher range. Despite that Mr. and Mrs. Caulfield have sufficient money for their living, they are present in the occasion as an exception because Mr. Caulfield is a corporation lawyer.
To discuss the characterization, Mr. Caulfield is a very judgemental character. This is noticeable by how just by observing Mr. Smith's expensive watch and making a short conversation with him, Mr. Caulfield already assumes that Mr. Smith is a person that likes money, power and showing off. Despite the similarity between Holden and Mr. Caulfield in the way the two judge "phony" people, Mr. Caulfield refuses to consider Holden anything like him. The irony explicit in his statement and his actions is re-emphasized as he grabs another Scotch, the drink Holden continues to ask for in the city. As for Mrs. Caulfield, her act of biting her nails shows her unstable mind, contrasting to the poise she tries to maintain. Furthermore, the whole scene was about what meeting people means as an adult, showing the clash between what Mr. and Mrs. Caulfield chooses to show to others and their true nature. Among the people discussing "first world problems", Mr. and Mrs. Caulfield strain to keep their judgements or feelings of anxiety perfectly concealed.
Finally, towards the beginning of the story, there is a part that states that the music That's life by Frank Sinatra played in the background which seems like a simply unimportant part of the story. Then in the very end, the music reappears, and its lyrics are related to Holden in the sense that, although the world does not accept him for who he is, he struggles to keep his innocence. Ultimately the music is a symbol of Holden, though seeming unimportant he had always been in the background, also meaning that although Holden's parents are not the most caring of their son, they still sense his presence and are concerned about him.
Greetings ceaselessly exchanged among figures dressed in formal tuxedos and dresses. Each with a glass of liquor in their hands, the figures walked around with their backs straight, chins high, and masked with radiant smiles. Mr. and Mrs. Caulfield blended among these figures. Mr. Caulfield was dressed in a navy blue tuxedo, and a simple but elegant white long dress fit Mrs. Caulfield's fail body. In the background That's life by Frank Sinatra played subtlely.
"Mr. Caulfield!" a sleek man approached Mr. Caulfield, lightly bowing to Mrs. Caulfield before stretching his hand out. Another handshake. "Hello Mr. Smith." Mr. Caulfield responded. He ignored a sudden pang of disgust surging from the unpleasant moisture wrapped around his hands. Before letting go, Mr. Caulfield glanced unnoticeably at the watch strapped around the man's wrist, taking only a split second to realize it was a Caliber 28. Mr. Smith was a tall, young man who had a relatively high position in a automobile industry. However, that watch would still have cost him a fortune. Mr. Caulfield concluded that he was bound to be one of those people who not only desire for greater money and power, but also enjoy demonstrating their superiority by showering themselves with expensive products.
"Nice watch you've got. Mr. Smith." commented Mr. Caulfield.
"Thank you." He replied appreciatively as if having wished someone to notice the dainty object. The conversation shifted back and forth between business matters and flattery. Mrs. Caulfield occasionally peeped in with more pleasing words and smiled whenever the two let out bursts of laughter. At one point she realized her hands were at her mouth, ready to bite her nails, and quickly lowered her arm hoping no one saw her. Shortly after, Mr. Smith left swiftly noting that he wanted to get a drink. His glass still had a quarter of it filled with whiskey. The next thing Mr. Caulfield spotted was Mr. Richman, the CEO of one of the biggest food companies in the country, standing by the bar and Mr. Smith checking his hair and readjusting his tie before ever so naturally approaching the rich man. Of course he would want to make a good impression on him - it wasn't even surprising. Mr. Caulfield let out a low chuckle both satisfied by his confirmed hypothesis and annoyed by the abundance of such artificial people and continued, with Mrs. Caulfield, walking around the hall making new conversations. More handshakes. Amiable smiles, laughter. Rarely they would come across familiar faces who would eventually ask something like: "How's D.B?" or "Did Phoebe grow a lot?" or even more likely, "Is Holden doing alright?". Mrs. Caulfield would answer casually, but tried to move on to a new subject before her uneasiness became perceptible.
Tired of the non stop talking, the two walked away from the crowd. Meanwhile Mrs. Caulfield bit her nails again.
"Will you please stop that?"
"Sorry darling.. I do it unconsciously." She couldn't help but glance at her nails which were short and ugly. She couldn't leave them alone for longer than a day and knew exactly why, but quickly set that side aside by taking a big gulp of wine. Both continued to take sips from their glasses. No words were shared in between them until Mr. Caulfield broke the silence.
"...So really, how is Holden doing in Pencey?"
"You know he never sends letters. It's been months since I've got any news of him." Mrs. Caulfield responded listlessly.
"Hopefully he's doing well. Whenever I think of when he got kicked out of… " trailing off, Mr. Caulfield tried to recall the names of the schools.
"Whooton school and Elkton Hills."
Now that Mr. Caulfield thought about it, it was funny, the fact that he had to recall names of schools his son had been kicked out of instead of some accomplishment he could feel pride on. Perhaps it was the effect of alcohol, but the thought soon turned to disappointment, and then rage.
"What's wrong with him? He doesn't have the slightest idea of what trying is. I wasn't like that when I was his age. I could never even imagine being like him." Mr. Caulfield scowled then caught the waiter just as he was about to leave, picking up another glass of Scotch from the tray.
"Don't be so critical of him. After all he's only in high school." Mrs. Caulfield found herself almost immediately defending Holden even though she was fully aware that she had made no such effort to establish a friendly relation with him.
"Well it's time for him to grow up. D.B's a writer, Phoebe's a bright kid, and so was..."
Mr. Caulfield paused, immediately regretting the words that spilled out of his mouth. Despite not having been mentioned, Mrs. Caulfield knew exactly who Mr. Caulfield was talking about: Allie.
Mrs. Caulfield swore she could feel her heart beating at irregular paces. After spending the whole night successfully, carefully orchestrating her emotions to show nothing but elegance, everything was starting to fall apart. She felt a strong sense of disappointment, even hatred towards herself for getting such an automatic reaction even after four years since Allie's death.
Emotions rampaged inside her, just by faint images of Allie lingering in her head, Mrs. Caulfield felt tears attempting to emerge and had to make her best effort to contain them. "Anyways I can't help but being concerned about Holden." Mr. Caulfield concluded hastily, attempting to end this discussion as soon as possible.
"He'll do well..." Mrs. Caulfield whispered. The two remained silent as the music continued playing through the crowd.
That's life (that's life) I tell ya, I can't deny it
I thought of quitting, baby
But my heart just ain't gonna buy it
And if I didn't think it was worth one single try
I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly