Catcher in the Rye

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Holden is afraid of growing up and becoming an adult – Discuss J.D. Salinger’s unique novel ‘The catcher in the Rye’ explores the life of a cynical teenager, Holden Caulfield, who is stuck between childhood and adulthood. Salinger highlights that Holden’s goal is to resist the process of maturity and entering adulthood. This is evidenced and demonstrated by Holden’s persistent fear of change, his strong opinion on the ‘phonies’ of adult world, his difficulty of moving on from the past and his impulsive personality. Holden’s fear of change contributes to his resistance of the process of maturity. This is because Holden considers becoming mature a substantial change in his life and he, therefore, resists it. When Holden hired a prostitute, he realised that having sex with a prostitute would contribute to his progress to adulthood. Therefore, he attempted to get out of it by diverting the topics of the conversations he had with the prostitute, even though he knew it was a ‘childish thing’. It is notable that Holden never directly mentioned that he disliked sex; He merely says that he was ‘feeling so damn peculiar.’ His thoughts about the museum of Natural History demonstrate his fear of change. That is, he likes how ‘everything always stayed right where it was. The museum represents his desire for things to stay the same. Ultimately, he does not want to transform into an adult, because he is fearful of the adult world and how different it is to the childhood. Also, he does not want other children to ‘grow up’. This is presented through his misinterpretation of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ poem. He says that he wants to ‘catch’ children who ‘start to go off the cliff’, when the poem is actually about the sex. Holden can’t move on from childhood and can’t change his innocent mindset. Holden distains adulthood because of its superficiality and ‘phoniness’. Holden
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