The Abyss Of Adolescence Essay

1293 words - 6 pages

Adolescence, the period of life involving the transformation from a teenager into an adult, is a vital time in one’s life where many begin to unearth who they are and the very things they desire as they transition into the adult world. In J.D. Salinger’s timeless American novel, The Catcher in the Rye, the main character Holden is a downhearted teenage boy struggling to leave his childhood behind in transition to the phony adult world he despises in order to explore universal themes including the phoniness of the adult world and the loss of innocence that is associated with the transition into adulthood. Through Salinger’s abundant use of symbolism, the reader is able to analyze Holden, his ...view middle of the document...

“She was laying there asleep, with her face sort of on the side of the pillow. You take adults, they look lousy when they're asleep, but kids don't. Kids look all right. They can even spit all over the pillow and they still look all right” (206-207). Holden absolutely adores Phoebe, her red hair, personality, innocence, and her other childish behaviors. After a drunken night in the city, Holden makes his way home to find his parents gone and Phoebe sleeping. To him, when kids are sleeping or even when they ever spit all over the pillow, they still “look alright”. It’s not quite the same for adults, they just look “quite lousy” when the sleep. Often criticizing and holding adults accountable for their actions, Holden repeatedly finds himself justifying and rationalizing the actions of children, simply because he does not think they should be held responsible for their actions due to their unique sense of reality stemming from their innocence that distinguishes them from adults.
The Museum of Natural History deeply appeals to Holden as it symbolizes a memory of his childhood, where his worries were nonexistent and innocence remained intact. “It always smelled like it was raining outside, even if it wasn’t, and you were in the only nice, dry, cosy place in the world. I loved that damn museum… The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move” (157). Holden joyously reminisces about his times spent visiting the museum as a child, even visiting it multiple times with his class, always coming back to find it unchanged.
“Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you… Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that’s impossible, but it’s too bad anyway” (158). It is at the museum where Holden comes to a realization that he cannot go back in time and be who he once was. Places can remain the same, but as time progresses, it is you who is the one that is constantly evolving. Holden thinks of his sweet innocent Phoebe visiting the museum like he did at her age, and how she would be return different each time she went back. The thought neither depresses or delights him. Wishing he could prevent such things from changing by “putting them in a glass case”, Holden yearns for the power to prevent such change from occurring, but ultimately fathoms after time he is incapable of preventing change.
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