Maturity in the Catcher in the Rye

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Maturity in the Catcher in the Rye

Maturity is a process in life that usually no one can run away from. The novel the Catcher in the Rye, by J.D Salinger, tries to disprove that lesson through its protagonist. Holden often behaves like a prophet or a saint, pointing out the “phonies” around him because he believes they are not as mature as he is, but as the novel progresses, Holden makes choices that prevents him from maturing rather than enabling him to mature. Holden’s mail goal is to resist the process of growing up. Holden also mocks the adults around him to make him feel better. To cope with society, Holden alienates himself from the people he considers “phonies”.

Usually, novels such as The Catcher in the Rye tell the story of a young protagonist’s growth to maturity; ironically, Holden’s main goal is to resist the process of maturity. Holden does not want to mature because he fears change and is overwhelmed by complexity. On page 201 of the novel, Holden says “Somebody’d written ‘fuck you’ on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and finally some dirty kid would tell them”. This quotation shows that Holden is scared and worried about Phoebe growing up. Eventually, Phoebe will learn what the word means just like Holden did. There is no stopping the process but Holden erases the sign anyways to symbolize his determination. He does eventually realize that he cannot stop the process when he tries to erase another sign that does not come off. Not only is Holden afraid of change, but he refuses to acknowledge this fear so whenever he is forced to, he invents a fantasy that adulthood is a world of “phonies”. Holden shows this when he says “Sex is something I just don’t understand. I swear to God I don’t” on page 93. Instead of acknowledging that having sex scares and mystifies him, Holden invents a fantasy that adulthood is a world of superficiality and hypocrisy by...
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