Holden’s Transition Into Adulthood Essay

1058 words - 4 pages

Childhood is an unusually hard thing to rid yourself of when it is time for you to pass into the intensified life of adults. Personally, I have yet to overcome that challenge. The Catcher in the Rye is a well developed story about a high school boy, Holden Caulfield, who is stuck between the stages of adolescence and adulthood, and is trying to discover his identity. All his life, Holden Caulfield has refused to grow up, and as the book progresses, he is on the fine line of leaving innocence and adolescence behind and passing into adulthood, but what gives him the needed shove into the realm of adulthood was getting over his brother, Allie’s death. To Holden, Allie is the main definition of innocence. Eventually Holden comes to the decision to be the catcher in the rye. After this decision he tries to follow through with his plan and ultimately decides that he can’t keep anyone from growing up. This seems to be his breaking point in the book where he finally overcomes all his negative emotions towards Allie’s death and accepts it for what it is, knowing that he has to move on.

Immediately after Allie’s death, Holden changes immensely. His very first act after Allie died was smashing all his garage windows with his fist. Following this aggressive act, he becomes a recluse and judges every person he crosses to- I assume- Allie, because of how much he still reminded Holden of innocence, and will for the rest of his life. Cynthia Barron states, “Holden is sixteen… in a unique position, caught in the limbo between childhood and adulthood. Thus faced with their inability to adapt to an adult world that is hypocritical and corrupt, both boys seek a return to the realm of childhood” (Barron). In my personal opinion, i believe that he is very afraid to step up and mature into the next phase in his life: adulthood. On account of this, Barron states this fact: “Holden cherishes innocence and strives to preserve it whenever he finds it” (Barron). Because of this, Holden makes a choice to become the catcher in the rye. Ultimately, I believe he makes this decision because he cannot get over the fact that his little brother is dead, and he wants to save all the children from the phony and hypocritical world of adults.

The next step to his transition is following through with his decision to become the catcher, which unexpectedly is harder than he thought. As Kermit Vanderbilt states, “He describes the traumatic shock which Holden experienced when Allie died of leukemia.This will be the only successful release from the agonizing complexities of a mutable and deceitful world” (Vanderbilt), Holden recognizes that he doesn’t want other children to go through the tortures he’s endured by being stuck between the two way different worlds he was in. Holden loves his sister, Phoebe, and the idea of her growing up into the world he’s experienced the last year or two, kills him. It is on this note that he continued to follow through with his quick, unguarded...

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