Catcher in the Rye Growing up Theme

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Catcher in the Rye Growing up Theme

This essay will explore the theme of growing up in J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.” It will discuss how the novel portrays the challenges of adolescence, the protagonist’s resistance to adulthood, and the universal experience of transitioning from youth to adulthood. More free essay examples are accessible at PapersOwl about Catcher In The Rye.

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In J.D. Salinger’s, The Catcher in the Rye, Childhood and adolescence are depicted by times of innocence and wonder. Throughout Salinger’s novel, the main character, Holden, struggles with the concept of growing up in life. While Holden, wanting to act more like an adult such as his friends, Holden always finds a way to stay on the path of the youth. Throughout the novel, Holden struggles between the line youth and the line of maturity and this causes Holden great hardships.

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Let’s start with how Holden struggles to become mature throughout the novel. Holden is a very undecided and child-like character. Holden, basically experiencing peer pressure from his colleagues, feels the need to participate in sexual activities. Many of Holden’s colleagues are active in sex, especially with Stradlater, Holden’s roommate. With most of these students doing these kind of activities, Holden feels that this is the more “mature” thing to do; however, he can not achieve that kind of maturity in this novel. Even when Holden eventually persuaded himself to buy a hooker for a night, he still can not go through with the act of sex, thus depicting the character traits of both innocence and adolescence in Holden.

Holden’s uncertainty hangs on to him throughout the entire novel. Not only with not being able to engage in sex, but Holden does not let the audience know how strong his feelings are for his crush, Jane, the character that Holden assumes has done the “mature acts” with Stradlater. The audience can easily decide that Holden has great feelings for Jane, but of course Holden doesn’t express his love for Jane enough. He is uncertain about a lot of things in this novel such as his feelings for Jane and how she feels about Holden, and the world, in general. Holden countlessy points out people that he meets throughout the book act and how he thinks of the people. For example, Holden goes to see his history teacher, Mr. Spencer at the beginning of the book, before leaving Pencey. Holden judges his teacher in many ways like with how he was dressed in a bathrobe and even when he was going to die. Like all children and adolescents, Holden mainly daydreamed and judged Mr. Spencer while he was talking to Holden.

With Holden’s immaturity and how he deals with situations, which is by putting them off for as long as he can, caused him to live in a world of uncertainty. Holden only saw the world in a way that he felt everyone should see. He thought of others as “phonies” perhaps because these people have “two faces”, meaning that they act one way around certain people and another around others. Teachers were a prime example of being two faced because the way a teacher acts in school was completely different than the way he or she acted at home or out in public, away from schooling.

Holden is a very complicated boy, yet is very intriguing. Holden has a very unique viewpoint on life mainly that deal with how children should stay as adolescents such as himself. However, Holden realizes near the end of the novel that this dream of his may not be able to happen, because everyone, no matter the race, religion, pigmentation of skin, or different hobbies of a person, have to eventually grow up. These people eventuallyenventually have to mature, and understand and see the world in a new way, a way of understanding responsibilities and that actions have consequences.

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Catcher in the Rye Growing Up Theme. (2021, Apr 19). Retrieved from