Catcher in the Rye Analysis

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Catching Adulthood

Catcher in the Rye is the story of Holden Caulfield, an immature teenager. In most of the book he is childish, makes poor choices, and is not accepting to change. However, Holden realizes values of society and begins to accept them. Holden does begin the transformation into adulthood, proving that Catcher in the Rye is a Bildungsroman.

Holden doesn’t accept change and pushes the idea away. However in the final chapters of the book he goes to a carrousel with Phoebe. “You ride once, too, this time,” she said. “No, I’ll just watch ya. I think I’ll just watch.” The carrousel is symbolic of childhood and youth, and when Holden declines the carrousel ride, he is taking his first steps to becoming an adult and accepting values of society. Holden shows maturity in this decision to move on from childhood, confirming that Catcher in the Rye is a Bildungsroman.

Holden is very kind to children, and tries to protect them. He describes how all he wanted to be was the catcher in the rye, watching the children playing and stopping them from falling off the cliff. The cliff is symbolic of growing up and moving onto adulthood, and Holden wanted to stop the children from growing up. However, in the end of the novel he realizes that you have to let kids do what they want, they will enter adulthood and there is nothing you can do to stop it. “The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them.” This is the moment when he realizes that he will have to enter adulthood too, and he begins to accept values of society.

Holden has several “push factors” that move him away from family and society and cause him to embark on a journey. When Holden’s brother Allie dies, he is removed from society. “I was only thirteen, and they were going to have me psychoanalyzed and all, because I broke all the windows in the garage. I don’t...
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