The Importance Of Adolescence In The Catcher In The Rye

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Adolescence comes from the Latin world, adolescere, and is defined as “the transitional stage of physical and psychological human development that occurs during the period of puberty to legal adulthood”(Wikipedia.com). In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, is a symbolic character that represents adolescence. In the novel, Holden’s true issues are not related to the “phonies”. As a matter of fact, his true issue is his inability to accept reality because Holden fabricates concepts and situations to protect himself form the true nature of adult society. Salinger develops Holden’s character to remind readers that although the process of growing up could be emotionally intimating. One must have courage to …show more content…
Phony is used to describe someone that is acting not genuinely, or in a fraudulent way (enotes.com). In The Catcher in the Rye, the word phony, appears a total of 35 times (prooffreader.com), while significant words such as “catcher” (173), only appears once throughout the novel. The impact of Holden using “phony” to describe his family, teacher, and others in the society indicates Holden’s immaturity and his misinterpretation towards adulthood.
Holden Caulfield recognizes his brother, D.B., as a failure and as a “prostitute”(2) even though D.B. is a successful Hollywood screenwriter who owns a “Jaguar”(1). Holden believes D.B. is using his talent as a writer inappropriate because D.B. is writing for Hollywood. Holden also interprets D.B. as a prostitute because D.B. is willing to sell his talent as a writer for money. In reality, Holden’s misinterpretations towards D.B. comes from his lack of knowledge on the responsibilities of being an adult in today’s society. Holden Caulfield also has similar judgement towards Mr. Hass, Elkton Hills’ headmaster.
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When Holden visits Central Park to seek the ducks, the lake is “practically frozen and practically not frozen”(154). The lake is symbolic in the novel because the frozen side represents childhood and innocence, while the unfrozen side represents adulthood and maturity. Holden picks to stay on the frozen side because Holden not only struggles hard to stay childish forever, but he also tries to escape from the responsibilities of being an adult. Responsibilities such as confronting his parents for his own mistakes and facing the consequences. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden’s favourite place to visit is the Museum of Natural History because “everything always stayed right where it” belongs (121). This once again indicates how Holden does not want to grow up in order to protect his own innocent. Holden wishes his life can be frozen in time because he desires stability in life and the idea he will not get “lost” because he will know exactly which path to take to get back on track. Yet, Holden did not acknowledge that even if he has the abilities to stay the same, others around him will continue to grow, including his beloved sister Phoebe. Holden Caulfield’s motto towards life is believe to be “certain things […] should stay the way they are”(122). This is because the concept of change frightens him. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden always has devastating experiences involving

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