The Catcher In The Rye

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Holden, the Mature Man Throughout J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, the main character, searches for an impractical ideal-- to cling onto his childhood and his innocence. Believing that children are pure and that all grown-ups are “phonies,” Holden’s quest is to preserve childhood within himself and children around him. Placing symbols to stress Holden’s immaturity and impossible ideal, Salinger illustrates his unrealistic goals. Although Holden remains immature for the majority of the novel, as the story progresses, Holden becomes a new person and discovers his true self. The first symbol Salinger uses, is the crossroads at Route 204. As Holden is on his way to the home of Mr. Spencer, Holden’s history teacher, there is “no sun out,” it’s “terrifically cold,” and when he crossed the road, Holden felt like “[he] was disappearing” (5). At first, when one reads the text, it seems as though Holden is off on another one of his tangents. But when one looks deeper, the text seems to fit Holden’s ideal. Winter, in which the event takes place, represents the growing-up, or death. The crossroads resemble the transition stage between Holden’s childhood and adulthood. Holden, of course, doesn’t want to embark on the journey of adulthood; he’d rather just stay a child. He feels as if he won’t survive the journey and will “disappear.” Holden, being his callow self, can’t comprehend that this ideal of his won’t work. Holden doesn’t understand that sooner or later, he will have to become an adult, whether he likes it or not. All people must ultimately face their fears and overcome them. One of the next symbols found in The Catcher in the Rye, is the ducks in the lagoon in Central Park. While Holden is conversing with Mr. Spencer about flunking out of school, Holden daydreams a bit, and starts thinking about the ducks in the lagoon. “[He] was
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