The Catcher in the Rye: Holden's Adolescent Mentality

1413 Words May 16th, 2006 6 Pages
Holden Caulfield plays a timeless character in the sense that his way of life is common for the American teenager, in his time as well as now. Today parents dread the terrible and confusing adolescent years of their child's life. In J.D. Salinger's book, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is in this terrible and confusing point of his life. At this point in his life, as well as in modern teenager's lives, a transition occurs, from child to adult. Holden takes this change particularly rough and develops a typical mentality that prevents him from allowing himself to see or understand his purpose in life. Holden has an apparent dislike for society. He insists that "[he] is surrounded by phonies (Salinger 13)" and left Elkton Hills because of it. …show more content…
This symbolizes him holding on to his past, not wanting things to change. As Holden meets with all of his old friends, he claims many of them to have become phonies. All of his friends have grown up, and Holden is left behind, and still acts like a child. "[Holden's] central dilemma is that he wants to retain a child's innocence" (Bloom 22). As everyone around changes he just wants to stay the same, young and sheltered. Holden's hunting hat also shows symbolism of different moods and feelings he may be experiencing. First, the fact that it was a "hunting hat" symbolizes that he is searching for himself. And second, there is a pattern as to the way he wears he hat. When he is in a lost and depressed mood he would "turn peak around to the back" (Salinger 45), when he was in a good mood he would "pull the peak…around to the front" (Salinger 34). There is no specific sequence in these changes, his hat turns with his mood. It is as if the hat is directing him and comforting him in his quest to find himself. Jane Gallagher remains a constant though out the entire novel. She represents the way of life he once followed, and the track he should be on but doesn't get back to. He never calls her because he claims he isn't "in the mood" (Salinger 33). This emphasizes that Holden is trying to avoid finding his purpose, his track, because the truth, like the
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