Holden Caulfield: a Timeless Teenager

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When a person says "timeless", it could mean a variety of things. According to the Merriam Webster New Collegiate Dictionary, "timeless" means "to have no beginning or end, eternal; not restricted to a particular time or date; not affected by time, ageless." (Merriam 1222). When a person says the word "timeless", it could mean existing through the ages, relating to all. In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield relates to all people and their experiences. With Holden's vocabulary, sexual fascination, and attempts to enter the adult world, Salinger effectively creates a character with whom readers can relate.

Salinger relates Holden Caulfield to readers with the use of foul language and provocative wording. Salinger may even overuse the swearing in some parts in order to emphasize Holden's lack of maturity and respect. Holden says, "I damn near puked, listening to him." (Salinger 49). Holden has no respect for the people around him. He sees the phony in everyone, yet never gives him or her a chance. When Holden says that he "damn near puked" while "listening to him", he just does not care about the consideration for others. Yet, when teenagers throughout the ages are growing up, some of the same feelings may arise. Also, Salinger uses Holden's vulgarity as a shock factor for his audience. "Holden constantly uses word like puke, vomit, and 4-letter-words that Bernard 2

were strictly forbidden in the 1950s." (Kallen, 32). Although these words were forbidden, many young adults used them as a symbol of rebellion, much like Salinger used Holden's language for rebellion. Along with language, Salinger uses Holden's sexual fascinations as a shock factor in order to relate to his readers.

Teens and adults alike can identify with Holden's confusion over his sexuality. Throughout the book, Salinger uses Holden's virginity as a means for awkward conversations between characters. It also bring up different points in Holden's past relationships that hit...
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