Childhood and Adulthood in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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Childhood and Adulthood in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield sees childhood as the ideal state of being. He thinks adulthood is filled with corrupt people. The only way anyone can win in the adult world is if the cards are stacked in his favor. The characters in The Catcher in the Rye play a diverse set of roles in the war between childhood and adulthood.

Children do not think of appearances very highly, but in order to be respected in the adult world you must always look your best. Holden did not care what people thought about him as long as he felt good. He would wear his red hunting cap backward (p. 18). He also would have his hair cut crew cut style, which is thought of as a kids
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When Holden comes home, he stops and buys "Little Shirley Beans" record for Phoebe (p 114). Even though it breaks, he still gives it to her. She loves it just as much as if it were not broken. Holden remembers Allie by his baseball mitt with the poems on it (p. 39). When Holden tried to bring meaning into the adult way of things, he was outcast. After he told Maurice to send up a prostitute, he did not score with her but he tried to talk to her (p. 95). He tried to make something meaningful out of it but Sunny did not understand. It does not matter if Stradlater gave Jane the time on their date, but whatever they did meant absolutely nothing to either one of them. Stradlater could not even get her name right (p.31). The three girls Holden meets in the bar may be the worst of all. They could care less about anybody, but would die to get with a movie star (p. 72). These memories show thought and love which are a lot stronger than these empty sexual conquests.

Children move through their childhood without a care in the world but have a wonderful time doing it, while adults push kids to become more adult like and figure out what they want to accomplish. As Holden is waiting for Phoebe to show up to say good-bye to her, he takes two boys who are skipping school to see the mummies (p. 203). These two kids do not care about math class, they just want to have a good time by going to the museum. This causes Holden
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