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Protagonists on the run

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message 1: by Karen (last edited Jan 27, 2015 08:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karen I don't think Holden was an escapist- maybe from school if that's what you mean, but not from his grief or love for his sister. He couldn't escape from that. I think instead of running from his problems, he was in great conflict and was undecided about what to do next. I think Holden was a realist at the end, when he decided he did need help and got it.


message 2: by Monty J (last edited Jan 27, 2015 01:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying Stephan wrote: "In comparison with Ralph, the protagonist of ‘Lord of the flies’ by Golding, wouldn’t you agree that Holden was an escapist, whereas Ralph was a realist?Or was it the other way around? Whose escape in your view was less justified?"

Holden was mentally off-balance, so his wandering is hard to classify as rational choice. He's reacting to the pain of grief over the deaths of two innocents--his brother Allie and James Castle, whereas Ralph is consciously striving toward the goal of rescue and, eventually, survival.

Both boys' primary concerns are the welfare of those around them. Holden fantasizes about rescuing innocent children and about escaping to a cabin in the woods. Ralph engages in heroic action on the behalf of "mankind," first to escape the island, then to escape death at their hands.

Both seek escape from the "madness" of society. Holden fantasizes where Ralph engages. Holden "held on" until he could rationally choose rescue by sibling love. Although he weakens, Ralph's steadfast efforts are rewarded--the ship responded to the smoke from his fire. Both heroes coped with and sought "escape" from pain and succeeded.

Holden fought Stradlater to protect Jane's innocence. His reverence for innocence reflects an idealism that stands out, but his will wasn't tested like Ralph, who seemed eventually ready to engage in savagery to preserve his own life. So of necessity Ralph was more of a realist.

Whose "escape" was less justified? Ralph's escape (from being killed by Jack) was justified, but survival is an easy decision compared with Holden's noble goal of protecting innocence. To know who is more justified we need to know their minds.

I don't see it so much as a matter of degree as a matter of truth and ration. Both were motivated in their behavior by rational perception of a real threat to something highly valued.

Were I in their shoes, I'd have to say the clear and present threat against life and limb is greater justification. You survive to fight another day.

But then I'm not a James Castle.


E.D. Lynnellen Interesting question. I've always thought that asking "what are you willing to die for?" was empty rhetoric. The heart of the matter shows itself in the answer to "what are you willing--and able--to kill for?".

Nobility. Survival. How far would you go?


Duane There's a famous rhetorical question they ask in the USMC, "Is this the hill you want to die on?"

With them it ain't empty rhetoric... and if you think about it, that question goes all the way to the bone. Sooner or later there WILL be a hill, is the point... And you're gonna end up on it. So your real choice is whether to choose, or have somebody else make the decision for you.


message 5: by Monty J (last edited Feb 05, 2015 10:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying E.D. wrote: "Interesting question. I've always thought that asking "what are you willing to die for?" was empty rhetoric. The heart of the matter shows itself in the answer to "what are you willing--and able--t..."

It's a question we live the answer to every day. We're all dying, so the way we live is the ultimate definition of how we value life.

But it begs the question of what would we trade in exchange for the early and certain termination our lives. For me, there's nothing I would exchange for my life because I have a mission that I regard as sacred, to significantly relieve the suffering of orphans and foster kids through my writing. This is how I spend my time and will continue to until I feel I have accomplished that mission.

If I were in combat, as Duane says, it ain't empty rhetoric.

The Wilhelm Stekel quote from Catcher in the Rye comes to mind: “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that is wants to live humbly for one.”

To personalize it further, each time World War II Ace-in-Day Earnest Bankey put his P-47 into a dive to kill a German tank during the Battle of the Bulge, he had made that decision. Tanks don't just sit there; they shoot back. During that same battle, J.D. Salinger and Henry Kissinger, both of whom served in the Army Counterinteligence Corps on the ground while Bankey's plane went soaring past, made a similar choice every day. It may have felt routine, but they saw the bodies of those who didn't make it, and the sounds and images and the smells of gunpowder and death never go away.

Salinger did both. He lived nobly in war and humbly as a writer, but always for a cause. I doubt he watched much TV.


E.D. Lynnellen Duane wrote: "There's a famous rhetorical question they ask in the USMC, "Is this the hill you want to die on?"

With them it ain't empty rhetoric... and if you think about it, that question goes all the way to..."


"No SOB ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it, by making the other dumb SOB die for his." --G.S. Patton

Leonidas and his Spartans didn't go to Thermopylae to die (though it was most probable), they went to kill as many Persians as they could. Dying happens, it is a possibility. Killing is a choice.

Monty, based on what I've seen you write, I truly believe you would sacrifice yourself to save a child. Would you kill to do so?


message 7: by Monty J (last edited Feb 09, 2015 05:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying E.D. wrote: "Monty, based on what I've seen you write, I truly believe you would sacrifice yourself to save a child. Would you kill to do so? "

I almost did, but I was out of my head, so I don't know if that counts.

I was in a Jack-in-the-Box in Modesto and an big ex-con-looking guy took a swing at a teenager having a coke with his girl. I don't remember leaving my seat and going across the room (it was sort of like floating), but I was in this guys face with my fist doubled up and my left arm pointing toward the Exit sign and the words that had come involuntarily from my mouth were: "Alright, that's it. Hit the door!" I was boiling mad. Something in me wanted him to give me a reason to unload. But he correctly read what was in my eyes and backed out.

It all seemed unconscious. I wasn't rational. It was as if someone else had taken over my body.

If I had to kill, I would have, and will I suppose, to save the life of a child in imminent danger, if there were no other option. I'm against the death penalty though, and killing in general. There would have to be no other option and imminent danger. I pity cops who are put through this repeatedly. I hope I'm never put in that situation.

That said, I need to live to complete my mission. That comes first. In an emergency, the subconscious takes over, especially with PTSD, and you just react without thinking.


E.D. Lynnellen Monty,
I wish you long life and success. Your mission is admirable.

I think I knew your answer to my question before asking. Your story confirmed it. Well done. Rational, or not, you stood up for justice.

In the abstract, almost everyone would say they were willing to die for ideals such as freedom and justice. Or family.

Being willing to kill for them removes the abstract, and hits one with reality.


Duane I am against killing because it deprives one of the ability to continue torturing the victim.


message 10: by E.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

E.D. Lynnellen The Inquisition.

"Sit him in.....The Comfy Chair!!!!!!" --Monty Python


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