Growing up and getting old is part of a natural life span, and everyone eventually encounters it. For one it may be a very big step to maturity which may lead to many barriers and challenges. For those who don't enter maturity will be left behind in their childhood. The saying "age is nothing but a number" isn't completely true, with every number that gets added to an age, one grows older and develops a mature identity. This leads to receiving many responsibilities and tasks that one may not ask for. The society holds its citizens to very high standards and morals that one may not be ready to understand and accept just like in Holden's case. In the novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield, the main character, is trapped between his fantasy of childhood, and the unpredictable struggles of adulthood. While Holden tries to grow up, he runs into many challenges that hold him back like, living with rules, losing his virginity, and facing his family.
Laws of adulthood requires many limitations and boundaries which does not comply with the restrictions of childhood. Rules are something that not everybody can follow. Rules can hold back people from doing certain things because of the fear of breaking them, or in Holden's case, they can intrigue people to do wrong things in order to break the rules. For Holden, when breaking rules, it also includes doing the opposite of what is expected, not taking the obvious routs, and also not doing what is morally correct. One of the biggest examples is Holden's academic life. Everyone tries to help him improve his life and do well in school but it just goes in one ear and comes out the other. Holden flunks out of every school he attends because he doesn't put any effort in his school work except for English class. When Holden's History teacher, Mr. Spencer says, " Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules" (Salinger 8). Holden totally disagrees and thinks that life isn't a game at all. He tends to do the opposite of what people want because he doesn't want to face the reality that he needs to grow up. "..I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true. People always think something's all true. I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am-I really do-but people never notice" (Salinger 9). While trying to act his age Holden is stuck between either acting older or younger.
Holden struggles to fit in and have people notice him, but he doesn't know how to accomplish it. Holden scams the bartender by posing as an adult. Holden believes that because of his height and grey hair people will believe that he is older than his real age. Sometimes he is able to fool people but other times he's asked for an I.D. and when he isn't able to provide one he is refused to be served alcoholic beverages (Salinger 69). Holden believes that he can use the power of money to receive for his personal pleasure and lust. When he doesn't succeed he holds the other person responsible for his own delinquencies and faults. Holden says all adults are all phony and laughs about it because he believes they can't see their phoniness. Holden uses this phrase "phony" to protect himself from the world around him and it gives him excuses to withdraw into isolation.
While trying to enter into manhood Holden gets stuck in his childhood. While on a date with Sally Hayes, Holden proposes an idea which he thought was brilliant while it was still in his head. He came up with a plan to run away with Sally to Massachusetts and Vermont and eventually get married , however when he shares the idea with Sally, she refuses. When Holden asks her why she refused she says " we're both practically children" (Salinger 132). Sally's response makes Holden unexpectedly angry, which leads him into...
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Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Canada: Little, Brown and Company, 1951.
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