The Theme Of Adolescence In The Catcher In The Rye

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Adolescence is a time fraught with the dangers of loneliness. In a person’s journey through this period it is therefore important to maintain strong relationships with other people. Holden Caulfield is a teenager who lets such relationships deteriorate in J.D. Salinger 's The Catcher in the Rye. The novel follows Holden as he leaves his school, travelling through New York City alone in a depressed funk. Ultimately, Salinger uses Holden’s language to illustrate the theme that an absence of close relationships and feelings of alienation and loneliness pose a danger to adolescents. He demonstrates this message through Holden’s flashbacks and language of depression. Firstly, Salinger uses Holden’s flashbacks to demonstrate the importance of …show more content…
For instance, before leaving Pency, Holden goes to see his favorite teacher, Spencer, to wish him goodbye. He talks about a strange experience he had when crossing the road, describing how “[he] felt like [he] was sort of disappearing. It was that kind of afternoon” (5). Here, Salinger uses Holden’s reference to “disappearing” to portray Holden’s depression at saying goodbye. Holden has lost many of the things that anchor him to the world and most of his key relationship. Furthermore, as Holden, down in spirits, wanders through New York, he hires a prostitute for an hour. He says, “It was against my principles and all, but I was feeling so depressed I didn’t even think” (91). Later, after the prostitute’s pimp beats him up, Holden even considers suicide: “What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window” (104). Salinger uses Holden’s musings at his lowest point to show his downward spiral into depression. Holden feels as though everyone has left him behind. In an absence of relationships, he has begun doing things “against [his] principles” and thinking of “suicide”. His loneliness and alienation from others have led him down a dark path. Finally, late in the novel, as Holden walks down the street sans tie and dignity, he again begins to feel as though he is disappearing. He says, “Every time I’d get to the …show more content…
Initially, Salinger develops the theme as he describes Holden’s flashbacks, showing how the deterioration of Holden 's relationships forces him to retreat from the world. In addition, Salinger’s use of Holden’s language of depression also demonstrates the amount of devastation that being on his own with nothing to anchor himself to the world is causing. Through these elements of Holden’s language, Salinger illustrates the depths one can fall to when stripped of all human connections. Such a state is no way to live, especially in adolescence. Instead, people should spend this time coming to understand themselves and of age. No teenager deserves to lose this opportunity to

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