Holden Caulfield Is an Angry, Vulnerable Child Who Can't Grow Up

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“Holden is an angry, vulnerable child who can’t grow up.” Discuss

Holden Caulfield, the protagonist from J.D Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” is a character who has been thoroughly discussed ever since the novel’s publication. Holden’s obsession with thinking about people’s attitudes, especially towards him, causes him to be critical towards his teachers, school peers and even towards people he just met. Holden’s parents are determined to make their son grow up and be successful by persisting him to attend high-classed schools even though he was expelled from four different schools, but he refuses to accept this and other advices from is teachers. Holden appears to be a careless, typical teenager, however it is seen that he is greatly affected by the death of his brother, Allie, which is used to explain why he acts like he does. Holden naturally criticises people and this can be seen through his excessive use of calling people “phonies”, especially towards people he thinks are boring and typical. Nearly everyone Holden has met through his recount after his expulsion, he has criticised, however not always in a negative light. Holden treats people like Ackley differently by having less respect towards him compared to others, and doesn’t enjoy his company. We can see this as he considers Ackley as a “pimply moron” who doesn’t clean his teeth. Moreover, Ackley does not respect Holden as he tries to annoy him by “picking up your personal stuff” so what Holden does, by criticising people (like Ackley) is part of a defence mechanism which is result of his previous experiences. When Holden encountered the nuns and the mother of another student, he was polite and decent: “She had a nice voice. A nice telephone voice, mostly.” The meeting Holden has with the nuns shows that he enjoys the presence of very nice people who treat him respectfully (unlike Ackley and Stradlater), and people that are seen as pure. It is seen throughout the novel how Holden has been greatly...
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