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Holden Caulfield: Dynamic Or Static? Essay

874 words - 3 pages

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a story of Holden Caulfield's growth as a person. Some view Holden as a static character, and say that by the end of the novel he hasn’t changed. I’d say that on the contrary Holden is an extremely dynamic character throughout the story. Holden does change and grow as a character because he lets go of wanting to protect innocence in the world, we see Holden begin to grow into what Erik Erikson believes is the stage of development for adolescents, and he starts to be willing to apply himself.

We see during the novel that Holden wants to be able to protect innocence in the world, however by the end of the story he lets go of that desire. This is a point of growth for Holden. He finds that it is impossible and unnecessary to keep all the innocence in the world. While with Phoebe Holden says, “I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye...I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff...That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye” (173). In this moment Holden wants to be able to preserve all the youth and innocence in the world. He doesn’t accept that kids have to grow and change and that they can’t stay innocent forever. Later on in the story when Holden is with Phoebe at a carousel again he thinks, “The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the golden ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.” At the end of the novel Holden realizes and comes to terms with the fact that kids grow and lose their innocence. He moves from his want to be the “catcher in the rye” to wanting to let kids grow on their own. This is one of the major ways that Holden changes and develops throughout the book.

In the beginning of the book it is fairly obvious that Holden has no wish to apply himself at school in order to get good grades, whereas at the end he does say he may be willing to try. We meet Holden as he is being kicked out of Pencey Prep for failing every class he is taking except English. “I forgot to tell you about that. They kicked me out. I wasn’t supposed to come back after Christmas vacation, on account of I...

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