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Why does Holden fear adulthood?

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Valentina D�az Why does Holden fear adulthood? The novel catcher in the rye is set in the 1950's and is narrated by a young boy called Holden Caulfield who is sixteen years old. He tells the story between the end of his school term and Christmas break. We know he is in a mental hospital and is telling the story of a few days he spent in New York city, he shares his feelings, emotions and opinions against the world surrounding him. Holden Caulfield, he is a person who feels the need to be in control of everything in his life, but the problem comes when he finds himself in the transition between childhood and adulthood. Holden wants and tries to act like an adult, but is unable to accept the fact he is becoming one, perhaps because of his association of adulthood with phonies and all he hates. By being in the stage where he is, he manages to avoid change, control his world with his own hands, yet creates a paradox between what he is, and what he wants to be. Possibly the main reason to why Holden doesn't want to become an adult is his perception of "phoniness" and hypocrisy surrounding adult society. Holden shows his criticism towards most of the grownups who intervene in his life, specially those related to his schools. ...read more.


This again represents how Holden wants to become part of the adult world unconsciously yet is still attached to his childhood feelings, his innocence. Just like when he meets Sunny, he needs company like a child always does when he is away from home, he doesn't treat her like a prostitute. His eyes are blinded towards the fact that she is not an ordinary young lady, but instead sells her body. The fact that Holden fears adulthood is also reflected on his protection for his younger siblings. Holden never criticizes his younger siblings, in fact we might say he has an inferiority complex towards them. "My Brother D.B.'s a writer and all, and my brother Allie the one that died, that I told you about, was a wizard. I'm the only really dumb one" (pg 67). Children are perfect to him, they haven't become part of the corrupt world, or aren't aware of it. They still have that glow of innocence where nothing matters. This is where we first see the link between the novel and its title. It shows us how Holden wants to save children from falling off the cliff into adulthood, his same fears. "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in the big field or rye and all. ...read more.


His parents will be there, thing he may not accept, yet subconsciously knows is true. Children are more na�ve and don't have the opportunity to become fake or worry they have to be. Children are blunt and non-hypocritical. Holden is aware that society is fake, knows in some level he will become a part of them, but he doesn't see he is already a phony. Holden finds hypocrisy in almost everything he sees but does not yet even realize that he too is part of that corrupt world the minute he stopped being a child and wanted to be an adult. Holden fears becoming an adult in mind and heart, but wants to become one in his actions. He wants to be safe but take chances. It's a battle between childhood and adulthood, between innocence and phoniness. This battle is what has made Holden's world an illusion, what has made him a madman. Holden fears landing form his illusion, becoming what he despises, knowing his protection is lost and knowing he is vulnerable to the world. What we see in Holden is probably not uncommon at all, he wishes to be a child at mind where it satisfies him internally but an adult in his actions, just like everyone, they get the side of the situation which satisfies them most. We never see what Holden becomes, but we see how his paradoxical way of acting and thinking is just a reflection of his fear of taking the full step into the adult society. ...read more.

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