Holden's Struggles in Catcher in the Rye

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Lights, Camera, CUT!

“Testing 1, 2. Testing..” Holden Caulfield, the average teenage boy from The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, who is currently on “stage”, testing and experimenting with his life. He was recently expelled from the boarding school, Pencey, and is now roaming New York City, encountering several experiences that tests his place on the road to adulthood. The “stages” that Holden undergoes are thoroughly explained by the article, The Normal Psychological Development of the American Adolescent, by Lewis L. Judd. These “stages” are developed through studies and research of teenagers with the analyzation of their actions. Through the connection of the novel and article, Holden reveals his difficulties to work with peers, which contributes to his inability to develop a stable identity and demonstrate self-determination.

Holden first associates with the concept of being unable to function satisfactorily with peers. Characteristics of this stage include the following stated, “ The influence of the peer group is very strong. Most adolescents conform assiduously, as non-conformists are aggressively sought out for rejection and ridicule by the group....Thus the ability to function adequately and appropriately within it to gain the necessary social rewards is vital”(Judd, 469). He is first seen as an ignorant student before he was expelled from Pencey. He furthermore develops a marginal relationship with the students at Pencey. It’s demonstrated when Holden was chatting with Stradlater, his roommate, in the bathroom about Stradlater’s ex-girlfriend, Fitzgerald. After Stradlater insults her, Holden confronts Stradlater in a rather unusual way. “ That’s a wrestling hold, in case you don’t know, where you get the other guy around the neck and choke him to death, if you feel like it. So I did it. I landed on him like a goddamn panther” (Salinger, 30). Holden attacks Stradlater, portraying his struggle to communicate normally with his...
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