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A Predisposition Toward Violence Essay

2402 words - 10 pages

The key to understanding teenagers’ behavior lies in understanding the circumstances that surrounded their maturity. Holden Caulfield’s juxtaposition to death, violence, and constant change effected his maturation. Not only was he forced to grow up in the midst of World War II, his older brother D.B. was actually in Europe during the war. The anxiety that the Caulfield family must have felt during that time is unimaginable, and obviously would have had profound effects on a young Holden. On top of this, his brother Allie, whom Holden felt very close to, died of leukemia during his childhood when Holden was also quite young. By smashing windows instead of internalizing or talking about the pain of losing his brother, Holden displays behavior that is prone to violence. Throughout the novel it is revealed that violence reminds Holden of his deceased brother. Just when you think Holden has had enough to deal with as a young boy, Holden nonchalantly discusses an acquaintance of his that committed suicide because of bullying at one of Holden’s previous schools. This above all else had a lasting impact on Holden and actually influenced the way that Holden viewed troublemakers. Holden Caulfield’s troublesome childhood affected his development more than anything else in his life by subjecting him to brutally violent acts as well as harsh good-byes at a young and impressionable age.
When D.B. left the family to go to war, Holden came to regard childhood as a time of perfection because it was a time when his family was still united. Holden’s parents are not around very often, as is evident by their use of a live-in nanny and their need to send Holden to multiple boarding schools (Salinger 158). Because of this, the Caulfield children were forced to befriend each other in order to cope without parents. Holden developed a special affection for all of his siblings, even though, as did everyone else Holden comes into contact with, they sometimes annoyed him. One of Holden’s first experiences of loss and change occurred when his brother D.B. moved away from home. He left home several times for different reasons, but the first absence followed the United States’ entry into World War II and the resulting deterioration of the entire familial dynamic Holden had grown accustomed to. The worst part for Holden was that D.B. hated the war and that “when he used to [go] home on furlough and all, all he did was lie on his bed, practically” (Salinger 140). Holden obviously missed his brother and felt rage towards the United States and toward The War because it took away the D.B. that Holden knew in childhood. Holden equates war and fighting with change and loss of innocence because D.B. lost his innocence while stationed in Europe. By the time The War ended, however, Holden also matured as a result of the strain The War placed upon him, his family, and his family’s relationship with one another, a fact Holden despises. After The War, D.B. returned home...

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