The Role Of Adulthood In The Catcher In The Rye

1890 Words 8 Pages
The teen-aged years act as a boundary to either permit or prevent one from reaching adulthood. While some find the transition to be smooth, others become stuck in their past, remaining tied to their innocent childhood. Holden Caulfield, in J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, is an iconic representation of the American teenager. Holden dwells in the past due to his personal struggles and the difficulty he has understanding controversial life topics such as death and sex. The Catcher in the Rye, a post-war era novel, remains prevalent in education and society more than 60 years after its initial publication, greatly due to Holden’s personable thinking and behavior. At its core, the novel is a compilation of Holden’s interior monologue …show more content…
Salinger, through his style and intentional choices, creates a sense of intimacy between Holden and the novel’s audience. Over the course of just a few days in which the events of the plot transpire, Holden experiences both love and loss, innocence and guilt. Despite his kind and well-meaning nature, Holden’s troubled past make addressing maturity and, life in general, a challenge for him.
Aside from the difficulty Holden has fully appreciating the world, his intentions are often out of goodwill. Holden retains the ability to decipher between good and bad throughout The Catcher in the Rye. The sixteen-year-old’s kind nature is displayed when he visits an old history teacher of his, Mr. Spencer, whom he converses with about life. Mr. Spencer provides Holden with wisdom as they discuss the issues regarding Holden, and his failure to remain in school. Despite being frustrated with his overall situation, Holden still submits to acknowledging that Mr. Spencer is
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He finds the death of his beloved brother, Allie, to be especially troubling. Holden reflects on the death of Allie, even giving the specific date and drawing comparison between his late brother and himself: “He got leukemia and died when we were up in Maine, on July 18, 1946. You 'd have liked him. He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent” (38). Here, Holden attempts to convince readers of how admirable and likable his brother was. Salinger’s glorifying description of Allie on the behalf of Holden allows for a comparison to be made between good and bad. When asked by his sister Phoebe what he likes, Holden responds, “I like Allie. [...] Just because somebody’s dead, you don’t just stop liking them, for God’s sake -- especially if they were about a thousand times nicer than the people you know that’re alive and all”(171). When asked what he likes about the world, Holden responds with what’s most obvious to him: his brother Allie. Holden’s deceased brother is described to be perfect and distracts Holden from the real world. Thinking about Allie leads Holden to debase people that are still living, therefore affecting the way he views and perceives the present world. Salinger portrays the great magnitude of the impact Allie’s death has on Holden’s actions. Holden describes the physical damage he, himself, inflicted in his reaction to his brother’s death:
I slept in the garage the

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