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Holden’s Trouble Growing Up In Catcher in the Rye

Uploaded by YATA on Jun 12, 2004

Throughout the entire book Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield experiences a lot of trouble while struggling with the boundary between adolescence and adulthood. Holden’s basic problem in life is that he is unable to accept adulthood and grow up because he is not mature enough to handle a “complex” world. He likes to see things “frozen” because this way things are always the same so he doesn’t have to worry about it. He would rather recede into a false, fantasy world he created than face what the true reality was. As a way of “protecting” himself from the real world, Holden self-ostracizes himself to isolate him from the others around him. As he is growing up Holden cannot understand his surroundings and therefore criticizes them and then alienates himself so that he cannot be criticized or judged. Holden summarizes adults as fake, hypercritical, and superficial while children are everything but this—they are pure, innocent, and virtuous. Therefore, Holden thinks he must protect the children from the traps of adulthood though he is really the one who needs to be saved. Holden’s insecurity and immaturity is noticeable throughout the entire book as he constantly tries to oversimplify everything down to what he can understand while hiding in his own fantasy world away from everyone else, trapped between adolescence and adulthood.


Holden’s obsession with keeping things “frozen” throughout the book is brought out during his visit to the Museum of Natural History. Holden’s fascination with keeping things the same stems from the fact that he cannot cope with a changing lifestyle. He fears change because he cannot grasp any new complexities. Throughout the story Holden has shown us that he cannot deal with conflict, confusion, and change, because of his immature mind so he finds refuge in the museum which is always “there for him”. Holden is fascinated by the museum because “everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move…Nobody’d be different.” (Page 121), no matter how many times he went to the museum it was always something safe and reliable he could fall back onto instead of facing the real world. Though Holden does not come out and say it directly, the museum is really Holden’s visualization of what he wishes the entire world was like. Holden says “certain things they should...

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Uploaded by:   YATA

Date:   06/12/2004

Category:   The Catcher In The Rye

Length:   6 pages (1,248 words)

Views:   4918

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