The Disillusioning Stage between Childhood and Adulthood: "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D.Salinger
Growing up can be difficult, but certainly a learning experience. In "The Catcher in the Rye", J. D. Salinger explores the disillusioning stage between childhood and adulthood through the struggles of a young boy, Holden Caulfield. The events depicted in this novel follow Holden from his dropout at Pencey Prep Private School, to his adventures in New York City, to becoming hospitalized. Throughout Holden's entire recollection, his unique character becomes more and more complex. On the other hand, throughout Holden's evolution, his character consistently shows unmistakable signs of immaturity.
Holden lives in a world full of "phonies" as he perceives it. Phonies are the people that Holden despises most. A phony is described as someone who is not genuine, someone who is dishonest and cannot be trusted. Lying and deception are the most evident elements of phoniness. Ironically, Holden may be seen as a phony character through his lying and deception which proves he is a hypocrite because he can be just as "phony" as the people he criticizes, "I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful" (Salinger 16). Although at a younger age, adults are identified as those who can be trusted, but Holden is at the stage in his life where he sees adults for their true identity. He sees them as people who cheat, steal, and lie, which are all characteristics of a "phony" which may explain why he does not have many adult companions. Finding out the truth about adults, Holden wants to stay as a child forever. However, it is already too late for him after being exposed to the adult world. Thus, Holden takes on the role of "catcher in the rye" and attempts to save children from losing their innocence, and falling into the world of adults; the world of phonies. In attempts to separate himself from the people around him, Holden has a red hunting hat which is symbolic of his individuality.
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