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Naivety of childhood in novel The Catcher in the Rye

Naivety of childhood in novel “The Catcher in the Rye”

Strong interest on specifying topics lead one to pointing out key issues that might be omitted, exaggerated and or vaguely observed. A well developed character has a fascinating history or past. Every moment is essential as it helps the reader learn about the character.

From the novel, “The Catcher in the Rye” authored by J.D Salinger, the starring character, Holden, is the teenager holding naively to his childhood and refusing to grow up. This is resistance to change, which may result from fear of the unknown. This requires intervention in order to control it in time failure to which the subject ends up into embarrassment as is the case with Holden. He does not want anyone supervising him because he thinks he does not need to move on to that next stage (Harris, 208). A struggle is established through out the novel with Holden not ready to pick up the responsibilities associated with growing up. His obsession increases after deciding to wedge along the innocent child’s world and the stiff world of adulthood. As a result of his fixation, Holden resulted to dieting his two younger siblings as saints.

It is exceedingly evident that Holden refuses to grow when he turns down the responsibility of associating with persons. He does not go home to confront his parents and face the consequences. His silent treatment towards his parents was his only weapon. This explains why he refuses to interact with Jane Gallagher. Finding strangers to talk to was all he did. He was afraid of those close to him. The real world situations are a nightmare to face in his childhood. In chapter nine, Holden, who is driven by his cab driver to the Edmont Hotel, asks him for a cocktail. The driver was a complete stranger to Holden. Therefore, Holden preferred to go for some randomly selected strangers for a beer who would not in any way criticize him.

Although Holden tries to set up his own personal rules as part of his responsibilities, he eventually ends up breaking them all. Holden finds it hard to maintain his personal rules.  Eventually, the childish behavior acts emerge, where need arises for someone’s help to set up rules (Harris, 136).

Transition, however, in Holden’s shift to adulthood is evident. As an example, Holden has a sexual desire on things he considered perverted. While staying at Edmont Hotel, he admits that it is too absurd that a lot of crummy things of different kinds tend to be more fun. This shows that he is growing towards adulthood contrary to his wish. His strange focus on the lagoon’s ducks is a mirrored image symbolic of his life. He is concerned about where the ducks will head when the lake freezes. He ponders if any one will come his way for guidance on the right course of action or would his instinct just guide his way to life. The lake also may be somehow another broader picture of Holden’s life. During Holden’s visits to the Central park to check if there were any ducks in the park, he says: he finally saw it as partly frozen. The key transitions states of the lake had frozen and not frozen while Holden transits struggling between the child and adulthood. Having decided to de frozen during the transition states, Holden does not want change (Bloom, 67).

At the Museum Of Natural History, he seems to like the place saying that it tends to be the same during all his visits. The lack of motion of the elements in the museum impressed Holden.  Here, nobody moved.  Holden having gone there severally noted something like the Eskimos. He noted that Eskimos at the museum  would still be finished fishing those fishes, and that birds would still be flying on their way south, a deer drinking out of the same water hole. This is the way Holden would want his world to be, never changing no matter the time that passes.

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Holden fears to change. He would exceedingly much love to stay in a world with exceedingly single thing around him totally frozen. This way adulthood is nowhere to be expected soon.

Away from the complex adult life, Holden, now growing physically in his teens, chooses to live in the format of the child’s innocent life. The possession of a fixation to his childhood wedges him between these two world states. As he lays out his narrative on his life in this novel, he sounds so grumpy like an aged man annoyed about some things in the world he is living. His curiosity for the ducks at the lagoon at the Central park shows that he is genuinely on his youthful half. It is exceedingly clear that Holden indeed was concerned with the things or thoughts that others would view as being childish. At that real moment, he was glued between the world of an innocent child and that of adulthood.

Holden sees adult life as being exceedingly repellent. In the tenth chapter, while in the lavender room, at Edmont Hotel, he made several comments supporting this. He finds the band containing adults only as being putrid: “The band was putrid…” (Salinger , 69). He had nothing positive about these guys around the room.

Holden’s, who has a passion for the innocent child’s world, struggles on and on to stay as a child and eventually does childish deeds. In the same chapter (ten), when he tries to impress a thirty year old, at the table in the lavender room, he totally looks like a kid. Holden says that he sees himself starting to give an eye on the witches sitting on the next table (Jacobson and Andrew, 33). By giving them that look, he justifies himself to them as being a holder of almost all the required information required to do anything in the world. A self and façade is what he creates to try to impress the ladies by trying to act older. Innocence in his character further emerges when he thinks that he understands everything around him. This way he ends up on the losing side through not knowing at all. With the company of the three girls at the lavender room, he talks of the trio being of lower knowledge than him. Towards the end, of the chapter, he pays for the drinks they had; beautiful witty. His innocence leaves him at the end of the day as the dumb one and with bills to pay.

The “Catcher in the rye” is all that Holden wants to be. In the twenty second chapter, when asked by Phoebe what he wishes to do in his life, Holden here states that at least, he kept picturing all the small kids that were playing several games in this broad field of rye.  Many were little kids; nobody was around- nobody key. Holden finds himself standing on the extreme edge of some cliff.  Not knowing what to do, he has to catch the children running towards the cliff and not looking before they fall over. He knows that people see it as crazy (Emery, 28). That is the only thing he would certainly have wanted to do. He insists that it is crazy. Allie and Phoebe are praised by Holden as they portray all he wants in his world, an attraction to the innocent childhood. While writing a composition in the fifth chapter, he further paints Allie’s lovely things. All he said about Allie was rather irrelevant. Phoebe is painted as being quite smart. Overrating on the two siblings shows how much he admires the child life and why he still hangs on it. Phoebe, the only lady he seems to love forms the origin of his metamorphosis. She uses agitation to push Holden to the extreme point of change. Phoebe tells him of the things that he hates including school and other million things (Salinger ,169) which upsets Holden. He pondered on the insight and at some point thought that he was getting depressed. He could not accept to lose his only connection to comfort knocked down back to the real world. Holden could not figure out how one could do something till done. There is no answer to that.


Right from the beginning of the novel, the author strongly implies that Holden refuses to shift with changing conditions. In the early chapters, we are at some point convinced that Holden may never change. The author then expounds that despite the resistance change has to take place (Thomas, 176).

The responsibilities accompanied by growing up are hard for Holden to accept as he is expecting a painless growth to adulthood. Holden struggles on to live the innocent life. He does not figure out that he is already in the process of growth. His desire is to be the “catcher in the rye” keeping the children off the cliff of maturity. To his disappointment that which he entirely held on to as sacred turned out otherwise.

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