27 March 2012
Analysis of Holden Caulfield
Throughout the novel The Catcher in the Rye Holden sees the world as an evil and corrupt place, however it is clear that he gradually comes to the conclusion he cannot change it. The first instance demonstrating Holden’s progression is when he sees the profanity written all over Phoebe’s school. In this moment he finally understands that it is inevitable to enter adulthood and realizes the impossibility to try to rid even half of the profanity within the world if given a million years. The first majority of the novel displays Holden’s pessimistic view on everything in life and his desire to contain the innocence he has left. Holden’s evolution as a dynamic character is unclear until reaching the last few chapters in the book where his acceptance of the real world is slowly but surely obtained. Literary analysist Susan Mitchell voices her opinion when stating, “Holden's unreliability forces us to question everything about the subject: Holden's view, society's view, our own view as readers. The apparently stable themes are radically unstable; Holden does change, and society can, too, for society is neither entirely phony nor wholly pastoral,”(4) in her analysis of Holden Caulfield as a character. Holden slowly but surely learns to confront the complexities of adulthood throughout J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.
The next major event pointing to Holden’s growth is when he takes Phoebe to the carousel at the zoo. It brings him back memories from his childhood where his innocence was completely in tact and he almost begins crying of happiness. The most prominent features of the carousel are the music playing on the ride because it has stayed the same since he used to ride it as a child, and the gold ring all the children continuously reach for. Holden demonstrates his acceptance of the loss of innocence when thinking, “The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the...