The Catcher in the Rye as a Coming-of-Age Story

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The Catcher in the Rye can be read as a coming-of-age story. How does Holden’s Character change or mature during the course of the novel? To what extent are there TWO Holden Caulfields in the book, and what is the difference between them?

The novel ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D Salinger is a coming-of-age story. It follows the short tale of Holden Caulfield, a sixteen year old boy, who throughout his experiences in the novel, changes and becomes more mature and independent. The story essentially has two Holden Caulfields, the one telling the story, and the one that the story is being told about. This essay will look at the differences and similarities between the two Holden’s’.

It is obvious that the Holden Caulfield who is in the story, is a much different version than the one telling you the story. At first, Holden comes off as a bit of an arrogant tool, and most of the people in his life are getting fed up with him. They find it difficult to spend any elongated period of time with him. There are several instances in the book where Holden is feeling lonely, and he tries to reach out to people, and strike up conversations with strangers, yet time and time again, he is being shut down or shutting people down. “The first thing I did when I got off at Penn station, I went into this phone booth. I felt like giving someone a buzz.” (Salinger, 1945-6, p.53) He then goes through a list of people who he could call, but each time comes up with an excuse or reason not to call them “So I ended up not calling anyone.” (Salinger, 1945-6, p.53) Holden is searching for a companion. He is sad and lonely, and looking for someone to reach out to as he is in desperate need of human interaction. Sadly enough, Holden is unable to make this connection with anyone. However, had we as the reader, not known Holden’s inner most thoughts, the way he talks about others and himself, and what matters to him, we would more than likely not empathise with Holden. It is Holden’s...
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