Immaturity of Holden in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

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Immaturity of Holden in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the main character, Holden, cannot accept that he must move out of childhood and into adulthood. One of Holden’s most important major problems is his lack of maturity. Holden also has a negative perspective of life that makes things seem worse than they really are. In addition to Holden’s problems he is unable to accept the death of his brother at a young age. Holden’s immaturity, negative mentality, and inability to face reality hold him back from moving into adulthood.

Holden’s immaturity causes him many problems throughout the story. Although he is physically mature, he acts more like a child. “All of a sudden I
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Carl is in college, and he is more adult like than a teenager. Holden asks Carl childish questions, and Carl does not like it. Holden does not recognize that he is immature, and he cannot grow into adulthood without maturity.

Holden is unable to accept realities of life because of his negative personality. He claims that many people are phony and that they try to do things to make them look better than they are. Holden also thinks of many things as depressing. “It was really nice sightseeing, if you know what I mean. In a way, it was sort of depressing, too, because you kept wondering what the hell would happen to all of them” (p. 123). Holden always finds a down side to a situation. He fails to recognize the good sides of life, and this prevents him from seeing advantages in adulthood that are not present in his life.

The death of Holden’s brother Allie at a young age adds to Holden’s negativity as well as stopping Holden from accepting inevitable change. Allie dies immaturely of leukemia. “I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it” (p. 39). Holden is in the hospital because he broke his fist, and he was unable to attend Allie’s funeral. Holden has trouble accepting Allie’s death because he never said goodbye to Allie. His relationship with Allie is similar to his maturity. Just as Holden is unable to accept his brother’s death, Holden is not able to accept that