Adult Social Expectations In Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye

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Salinger demonstrates Holden’s inner conflicts about adult social expectations in a variety of ways: Jane Gallagher demonstrates Holden’s inner conflict with sexuality and sexual maturity, experiencing many overwhelming adult physical responses. Jane Gallagher is a young women whom Holden has had a personal connection with in his past. When Holden discovers Jane has gone on a date with his roommate, Holden becomes distraught by continuously worrying whether or not Jane has had sexual intercourse. This act would result in a loss of innocence for Jane, which Holden cannot, or refuses to, understand. Holden remembers, with great pleasure, the relationship that he shared with Jane when they were young; he does not see Jane as the mature woman she …show more content…
This character is struggling with the progression to adulthood; instead of adjusting to the new society he is presented with, he begins to reject societal expectations by attempting to preserve the innocence of children and himself. Holden’s younger sister Phoebe, is both intelligent and innocent, representing Holden’s ideal society, explaining his admiration for her. Holden interacts with his sister by participating in childlike games and activities, halting his progression into adulthood and continuing her childhood innocence. Holden uses Phoebe to reflect upon his own loss of innocence while finding comfort in his familiar and unchanged surroundings. Salinger intentionally uses this novel's title The Catcher in the Rye as one of the important symbolic references to the theme of innocence. Holden’s wishes to pursue a career as the ‘catcher in the rye’, establishes his idealistic world of children remaining pure. These intentions demonstrate Holden’s dreams to be a superhero, in the sense of preventing others from the emotional pain he experiences through his progression into adulthood. Establishing self-identity is the most challenging obstacle for Holden to overcome; he does not understand how to connect with others on a personal level; therefore, experiencing constant feelings of lonesome and rejection. Holden’s inability to see the positive in life is derived from his preconceived notion that society will always reject him. It is Holden’s own personal experiences nearing adulthood that drive him to try to preserve a childlike innocence in society. Salinger’s novel has the ability to be interpreted in many different ways, resulting in society’s initial reaction to be very controversial. Due to the immoral actions that are discussed, such as drinking underage and premarital sex, as well as profound language, and

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