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The Catcher In The Rye

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Introduction

Many occurrences, either positive or haunting, in one's life force them to mature, but often these experiences produce fear in that adolescent, keeping them from taking the next step into life. J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye details the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, and his confrontations with death, sex, innocence, adults, and the "phoniness" of the world. These experiences mold The Catcher in the Rye into a coming-of-age novel, in which Holden's conflicts with these difficult situations and issues support the concept that Holden matured from an adolescent into an adult. Although the step into adulthood was not simple, but rather a difficult task, Holden's first wary steps into adulthood provide the framework of this prodigious novel. His maturation occurred during his time at various schools, his weekend in New York, and at home. Death presents itself as a prominent theme in the novel, and it helped Holden develop into a mature young adult. The passing of his brother, Allie, struck Holden hard, and he continuously reminisced on his memories of Allie. Holden also spoke to Allie often when he felt emotionally and physically distressed, such as when he decided to move to the sunny west as means to escape life (Unrue 109). Seeing as Allie escaped from the burdens of life, Holden found comfort in him. From Holden's point of view, Allie was immune to the "phoniness," corruptness and lying of society because he died; he escaped from a world in which a child must inevitably sacrifice their innocence (Mitchell 5 of 9). ...read more.

Middle

Holden regarded protecting and preserving innocence as his lifetime occupation. The title of the book portrays this, as Holden self-proclaimed himself the "Catcher in the Rye," as he hoped to protect children from falling into the cruelty of society. ". . . I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-they and I mean if they're running don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be" (Salinger 173). Holden's wish to protect these children exemplified his fear to grow up, known as the peter-pan complex. This complex also includes a longing to live in their head opposed to the real world, a need to grow up, and a life that lacks a set course (Flynn). Holden's preservation of innocence reflected his own; he hoped to stay a child for as long as possible, and disregard responsibilities. The only problem for Holden's preservation of his childhood was that he neared treacherously to the edge of the cliff, but unlike the children, he did not have a catcher to save him. In addition, Allie's death took Holden's childhood from him, as his travesty forced him to grow up at a very young age. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unknowingly, Holden had the beginnings of a man whom he, by no means, wanted to become. His statements, which lacked consistency, and often truth, characterized the largest portion of Holden's immature side. Additionally, Holden criticized the actors of popular films, the girls whom he dated, and the residents of the hotel, yet he associated himself with all. He went to the films with Sally Hayes, even though he despised the "phony" actors. Moreover, he took Sally Hayes on a date, a girl whom he thought fake from the moment she answered the telephone when he called her. Lastly, he insisted on jitterbugging with the women from the hotel, despite the fact that they only cared about meeting the famous star, Peter Lorre. Holden's incessant self-contradictory statements prove his juvenile behavior and incapability to make a decision regarding his point of view. Additionally, Holden tried to control everybody, and the morals by which they live their lives, which again proves his immature behavior. Holden's confrontations with these people, issues, and conflicts are the reason many consider J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye a coming of age novel. All of these experiences restricted Holden from maturing into an adult. By facing many difficult situations, including death, sex, a loss of innocence, adults, and "phonies," Holden eventually comprehended that one could not change the world, only his life, and the way he lived it. He also learned that it is important for one to become an adult, as proved in the story; he realized the effects on others he had when he acted matured, instead of like a child. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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