Coming of Age in Catcher in the Rye

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The Catcher in the Rye written by J.D Salinger is a coming of age story. It is a story narrated by the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who is a sixteen year old boy, but has a mind of a ten year old innocent kid. In the beginning he thinks of innocence as important, but later he realizes that growing up cannot be stopped. He wanders around the New York City by himself and gains experience of life that teaches him to become mature. This book is clearly written to show the theme of coming of age because it shows many symbols of coming of age, it shows the changes of young adults in modern life, and it creates an image of Holden growing up.

There are many symbols that represent coming of age in this book. The author hides the innuendos of growing up in the nature and the society of New York City. Even though, Holden’s characteristics are described as “six foot two and a half” and “[has] gray hair” he has a mind of a child (10). But later in the book, J.D Salinger emphasizes Holden slowly growing up to be an adult. For example, when Holden gets soaking wet by rain when he is watching his little sister ride the carousel, he “felt so damn happy all of a sudden” (213). This symbolizes Holden getting baptized into adulthood because he realizes the happiness in life. He realizes that he is too big to ride the carousel, and is happy to just look at his sister being happy. One by one, the raindrops have cleared Holden’s childish personality when it falls on him. Another symbol of coming of age in the book is the vandalized walls with curse words. When Holden finds the curse words carved into the wall of an innocent elementary school. When Holden sees the awful curse words carved in, he realizes that the kids who already have crossed the thin line of becoming adults cannot be taken back to the stage of innocence. This realization makes Holden think once more about his in need of saving innocence, and shows that many kids are reaching the stage of maturity....
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