Catcher in the Rye and Red Badge of Courage - the Maturation of Holden

Topics: Rite of Passage, Narrative, A Story Pages: 4 (1325 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Catcher in the Rye and The Red Badge of Courage detail the gradual maturation of two immature boys into self-reliant young men. The steady speed at which Salinger's and Crane's language streams enables the reader to see the independent events that lead up to the ultimate rite of passage for both Henry and Holden. Although the pinnacle of maturity Holden reached concerned his pessimistic view of the world and Henry's was a unifying moment of bravery, both boys experienced an epiphany over the course of their respective tales. Holden came to a realization in the timeless peace of an Egyptian tomb that forced him to reevaluate his immature and selfish views. His new attitude was first displayed while he watched Phoebe snatch at the gold rings of the Central Park carousel. Henry found his manhood during the fierce chaos of battle. These final rites of passage differ in particulars, but their underlying themes possess many similarities.

As The Catcher in the Rye progresses, Holden comes to terms that he is powerless to rid the world of evil and forever protect both young children and himself from growing up. Although his perception of the world as a corrupt and phony place is not modified significantly, his final realization is a tremendous step towards accepting the inevitable- he must mature eventually, and the world will never be pure. The enlightenment itself is a step towards manhood. His epiphany occurs after spotting another "fuck you" etched in the serene Egyptian tomb. Holden sees he cannot escape perversion even in the ancient vault. He grasps that he cannot possible go about the world erasing all the profanity scrawled throughout it; eventually, every child is going to have to be concerned and upset as they come to terms with its meaning. They must grow up one day, as he knows he must as well. Salinger follows up Holden's epiphany with several supporting events. Holden has a nervous breakdown because he now knows with an abrupt and sickening...
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