Analysis Of Holden Caulfield's Life In The Catcher In The Rye

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In The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield’s life is composed of a great amount of contempt; he perceives society through pessimistic lenses, continuously dismissing its ways. Trying to veer off his path to adulthood, Holden often holds people accountable for their “phony” ways. He aims to “save” the children from such an outcome that he makes it his responsibility. The pivotal moment of which he transcends to maturity occurs is when he witnesses the children reach for the gold ring. Rather than blindly believing that he can save the children from sinking into the “evils” of the world and maintain their innocence, he ultimately decides to let them make their own decisions and grow up.
A majority of the book consists of
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Though he knows it’s impossible, he does not want to face the reality that some things just occur naturally and that it is perpetually changing anyway.
However, as the novel nears the end, Holden experiences his pivotal moment and takes on a different perspective of life. Rather than just going through with his plan of isolating himself from the superficial society, Holden decides to stay and face it, with its adulthood and phoniness. Seeing Phoebe attempt to grab the gold ring along with other kids, Holden thinks to himself, “I was... afraid she’d fall off... but I didn’t say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it... If they fall off, they fall off” (211). Holden reaches the conclusion that he can’t be a catcher. He can only watch the children and in no way can he avert them from committing their own wrongdoings; he is not able to save them from shedding their innocence as they grow older and they will eventually. Releasing himself from the task, “[Holden] felt so damn happy” (213). A burden has lifted as he liberates himself from such a responsibility. He doesn’t have to carry the weight of executing the responsibility he shackled himself with, one that greatly affected him mentally. He knows that he does not have to keep up this pretense anymore.
Holden believed it was his place in the world to tackle on the task of preserving
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