The Catcher in the Rye: Holden's Adolescent Mentality

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Holden Caulfield plays a timeless character in the sense that his way of life is common for the American teenager, in his time as well as now. Today parents dread the terrible and confusing adolescent years of their child's life. In J.D. Salinger's book, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is in this terrible and confusing point of his life. At this point in his life, as well as in modern teenager's lives, a transition occurs, from child to adult. Holden takes this change particularly rough and develops a typical mentality that prevents him from allowing himself to see or understand his purpose in life.

Holden has an apparent dislike for society. He insists that "[he] is surrounded by phonies (Salinger 13)" and left Elkton Hills because of it. Elkton Hills is one of the universities that Holden attended, and then failed out of for "Not applying [himself] (Salinger 4)." He labels others as phonies as a way of making himself feel like he has things together and is exactly who he says he is, but in reality he is just as phony as he thinks everyone else is. On the outside he lets others see that he understands what he must do to succeed, but on the inside, he is terribly lost and hasn't a clue where to direct himself. When Holden visited Mr. Spencer before he left Pencey, after Spencer gave his lecture Holden just gave him "the old bull" (Salinger 17), saying "phony" things just to get Spencer to stop lecturing him. Holden is avoiding the harsh truths of reality that people have been trying to drill into him his whole life. He is annoyed with these truths, because he knows they are right but is too reluctant to accept them. "He believes that he is holed in, trapped by the games of phoniness that society requires its citizens to play. He tries to escape by flunking out of school by searching for a quiet retreat…" (Mitchell 90). Holden is striving to remain non-phony, at the cost of everything else important in his life.

Holden also proves himself to be somewhat...
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