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The Catcher in the Rye: A Bridge from Essay

Innocence to Adulthood
Adolescence is a time of existence in two worlds.
One world having the desire to be in the adult world,
which is filled with all the unknown wonders of the world.
The other world is the world of childhood which is
comfortable and protected from all the impurities in the
world. This sort of tug of war between the two worlds is
not only mentally imposed on a being, but physically,
socially, and morally as well. With all the mentioned
above, often times an adult will discourage an action of
an adolescent by saying they are too old to a act a
certain way, and then will turn around and say they are
too young to do something, like go out late or go on
dates. These contradictions can lead an adolescent to
complete uncertainty of their actions. J.B. Salingers
book, The Catcher in the Rye, aptly describes the immense
confusion of the in between stages of being a boy and a

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Throughout the whole story, the narrator, Holden
tries to act both the boy and thw man but cannot. He
tries in vain to get a grip on the adult world, but never
is quite successful. Holdens first attempt at adulthood
is exemplified when he leaves his school without
permission from his parents or the school. This act in
itself sets the stage for his trial and error attitude
about adulthood in the sense he failed out of school,
which was a childish act. He tries to rectify his failing
out of school by leaving, which he views as an adult act.
Holdens leaving school represents his need for
independence and he achieves this by leaving.
Another of Holdens failed attempts at adulthood is
when he goes down to he hotels club where he orders an
alcoholic drink, but he is refused because the waiter will
not serve him because he is underage. Holden tries to
give the illusion that he is older because when he orders
the drink, he Orders it fast as possible, because if you
hem and haw they think you are under 21 and wont sell you
intoxicating liquor. This is the classic example of
adolescence when one attempts to act older than his or her
age when attempting to obtain alcohol. Up until the age
of 21, all young adults want to give the illusion they are
older than they are in hopes of obtaining special adult
privileges, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, etc.
However Holdens failed attempts forces him to realize
that his act is fooling no one other than himself. Such
an example can be seen when one goes to college bars and
can see all the adults that are hanging out there. The
people who are there are not fooling anyone as well.

Sex is often the most complicated adult subjects,
even for adults to understand themselves. The act of sex
itself can be talked about immensely, as done in locker
rooms or with friends, almost to the point where one could
believe in the tales. However the act itself cannot be
faked and innocence of such things are quite apparent when
the situations do arise. The saying one can talk the
talk, but cannot walk the walk describes this sort of
situation perfectly. Holdens first experience with a
woman who he has heard about from a friend, emphasizes his
inexperience. He called this woman because he heard from
his friend that she Was not a whore, but she did not mind
doing it once in a while. He tries to cover up his
innocence by faking a deep voice and pretending that he
was from Princeton. However she sees through his facade,
and lets him down. Another attempt into the adult world,
or what Holden considers to be the adult world, has been
thwarted. His failure is due in part to the fact that
Holden does not really know the rules, which he is
guessing at, and also in part because his loneliness is
not a substitute for experience. Although this act is not
childlike alone, but rather it is a stepping stone into
the adult world of sex, where an individual will try new
techniques, such as pickup lines and such, to obtain and
reach his or her goal. Thus Holden has learned his
first valuable lesson of what not to do in the future.

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However Holden is over his head when he agrees to
have a prostitute, who is propositioned to him by the
bellhop. He is apparently nervous and he confesses that
he is a virgin. His reasoning for having the prostitute
is that it is Good to get some practice just in case I
get married. He also tells of how in the past he had
almost gone all the way, but at the last moment he
recoiled. This indicates how immature he is and how he is
not ready for a sexual relationship, primarily because he
is doing it for the sake of doing it and not for love, and
also the fact he shys away from sex is a definite
indication he is not ready for it. Once the prostitute
come over, he again shys away and tells her to leave.
Once again, with these examples in mind, Holden emphasizes
how he is not ready for the grown up world of sex, despite
what his body is telling him.

The girls that Holden refers to quite a bit are Sally
and Jane, who together represent what he desires in a
relationship . Jane, although she was a girlfriend from
when he was younger, represents the caring and
understanding part in a relationship, the mature part, in
the sense that Holden in genuinely concerned for her
nature. Sally, a girl friend who is considered an adult
relationship, represents what he wants in an adult
relationship, such as sex and marriage. Holden tries to
seduce Sally and they make out in the cab. Again he puts
the cart before the horse, and asks her to marry him, even
though he Did not like her that much. He wants the
adult relationship of being married, but has the childlike
idea of not doing it for the sake of love, because he did
not love her, although he told her he did. Fortunately
Sally said she would rather wait, not getting swept up by
the excitement of Holdens immaturity. After Holden asks
her to marry him, he realizes how stupid his actions were,
and that he did not love her, which indicates that Holden
is learning something from his mistakes, and in turn
becoming mature.
As seen through Holdens failing at becoming an
instant adult, it is quite apparent that he is not done
being a child. It is exemplified when he tries to act
like an adult, but acting is all he is doing. Behind
every one of his adult actions, there is a childish one
to follow suit, and it is clear that his mature act is
fooling no one, i.e., the bartender, the girl he called,
the prostitute. Yet like a glutton for punishment, he
starts over again only to end up disappointed.

However the only time it seems that Holden is
comfortable and secure is when he refers to a childlike
state or when he talks about children, in particular his
sister Phoebe. Phoebe, who is ten, is the only person who
he thinks that truly understands him. Yet when he tells
her that he failed out of school, she does not does not
show any compassion, but rather show him anger and she
puts the pillow over her head and refuses to listen to
him. This is important because it emphasizes how Holdens
adolescent age can no longer rely on the advice and
understanding of a child, yet he cannot rely on adults
advice, although he pretends to be one.
The importance of childhood in Holdens life is seen
again when he starts talking to a little girl at the park,
who he also helps put on her ice skates. He shows no fear
or false nature when he is with her, and he shows his ease
with her when he states that he Loves it when kids are
nice and polite when you tighten their skates for them or
something. Most kids are. They really are. Unlike when
he is with women or in bars, Holden is uninhibited with
children and does not put on false faces with them. The
fact he finds them genuinely polite shows how he feels how
he can put his full trust with them, and explains why he
returns to children or a childlike state, because they are
real, whereas adults are about putting on aires.

The idea that children are real beings is seen
again when Phoebe asks Holden what he wants to do with his
life, and he replies he would want to be a catcher in the
rye, where he would catch all children who got too close
to the cliffs edge. He wants to be a catcher of children
because they love more easily than adults do, and they do
not play games when giving love, as adults do.

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Holdens most obvious example his regression to
childhood is seen when he returns back to his home. When
he left school and decided to stay at hotels, opposed to
returning to home, and he did so with the intent of
showing himself, as well as his parents, how he could
rebel against the forces that tie him to childhood.
Staying away from home was his big test of not only
himself, but to the world. Yet despite his brave brave
facade, the real reason he does not return home is because
he is overcome by guilt and shame over his expulsion from
school. Proving he cannot handle the adult world, he
returns home.
Unbeknownst to Holden, his parents are not home when
he arrives, but they arrive shortly later. As he leaves,
he takes no precautions about running into his parents,
and by doing this it seems that he almost wants to be
caught. This is symbolic because he then comes to terms
with his immaturity and the only thing that would pull him
back into his comfortable and safe child world is his
parents. When he blatantly smokes in the house and is not
careful when he leaves, he is almost crying out for help
and attention.

Before Holden returned to his home, he is at the pond
near Central Park, and he is thinking about dying and is
rather nonchalant about the fact he might die. When
Holden visits Mr. Antonlelli, he is again reminded of his
immaturity and is faced with it when Mr. Antonelli repeats
a poem that seems to describes Holdens whole nature, that
The immature man is one who wants to die nobly for a
cause, and the mature man is one who wants to live for
With this in mind, Holdens immaturity is brought to
his face, and despite his act, he realizes he is still a
child. In the end, Holden returns home, and in a sense he
is beaten by the system and beaten at his own game.

Throughout the story Holden refers to himself as
Stupid or Crazy after many failed attempts into the
adult world. What he fails to realize is that he is
niether stupid or crazy, but rather he is naive and
innocent to the workings of the world, and through his
failures he begins to realize this fact. The only thing
he is guilty of is trying too hard an getting disappointed
to easily because of his failures due to his inexperience
in life. What he also does not realize is that there is
no imaginary line that says child on one side and adult on
the other. Rather there is a stairway towards adulthood,
and unlike the imaginary line which is crossed
effortlessly, the stairway requires some effort and work
to achieve towards the top, which in this case is
adulthood. Holden attempts to cross the line versus going
up the stairs, and as a result he realized that there is
no easy path into adulthood, that it is a trial and error
period, where you have to learn from your mistakes and not
get hung up on them. Holdens failures are actually part
of the steps toward adulthood, steps that are critical and
help him understand the adult world and how it really
Salinger accurately represents the difficult bridge
between a child and an adult, and emphasizes that an
individual at this age cannot pretend to be an adult nor
can they regress back into the security of childhood.
Salinger also emphasizes that one must take this ride,
despite the twists and turns that come with it because it
is critical for survival as an adult. It is emphasized
that there is no given amount of steps toward adulthood
and it is different for each individual, but that the
experiences encountered, both good and bad, mold the
individual and shape them for the differences to come. In
closing it is apparent that there is no easy way into
adulthood, but it is accurate to say that the experiences
of the child are the mold for the adult.

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The Catcher in the Rye: A Bridge from Essay
Innocence to Adulthood
Adolescence is a time of existence in two worlds.
One world having the desire to be in the adult world,
which is filled with all the unknown wonders of the world.
The other world is the world of childhood which is
comfortable and protected from all the impurities in the
world. This sort of tug of war between the two worlds is
not only mentally imposed on a being, but physically,
socially, and morally as well. With all the mentioned
above, of
2018-12-27 03:08:03
The Catcher in the Rye: A Bridge from Essay
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