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Catcher in the Rye Immaturity of Holden Caufield Essay

In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher is the Rye, the protagonist Holden Caufield emerges from a trying and emotional series of events and does not grow emotionally but remains as immature as he was at the beginning of the novel. The story is about the difficulties of growing up. Most people come out of their teenager years as more responsible and mature people. Holden goes through many stressful events during the weekend, but instead of coming out more mature and grown up, he still has the same childish views on life; he is violent minded, depressed, confused, and irresponsible. Throughout the whole novel, Holden fantasizes about killing people, he is baffled by sex, and he does not think out his actions.

During the beginning of the story, Holden thinks about killing people many times. He wanted to kill Stradlater, his roommate, for dating Jane Gallagher, his old friend. Holden knew what kind of guy Stradlater was and he was afraid he took advantage of Jane. Holden actually does fight Stradlater but gets hurt pretty badly. He then puts his hunting hat on and says it is a “people shooting” hat. Later on in the story, Holden again thinks about killing people.

When Maurice, the pimp, hurts Holden and steals his money, Holden pretends that he had been shot in the stomach and his guts were falling out. He then pretends that he is staggering down the stairs with a gun to shoot Maurice and get revenge. Holden does not actually do this, but it shows how he is immature and violent. Also, while Holden is visiting Phoebe’s school, he sees that someone has written “fuck” on the wall. He becomes very angry and wants the bash the skull of whoever did that on the marble floor so they are all bloody. Again we see that Holden has much anger in him. He does not know how to deal with it and that shows he has not grown up.

Holden also does not ever figure out his views on sex. At the beginning he hates Stradlater because he takes advantage of girls. He says has never done anything to a girl because he always stops when they say “stop”. Holden says that he would have to really like the girl’s face and really get to know the person before he could have sex with them. When Holden gets to New York he calls Faith Cavendish, who he thinks is a stripper. He does not even know her but he wants to have sex with her.

This goes against everything he said before. Then when Holden gets to the hotel Maurice offers Holden a hooker and he accepts. Holden then does not do anything with her because he is nervous and it does not seem right to him. Once again Holden is confused about sex. It is a foreign thing to him and he never figures it out. He has ideals that he sets for himself but he never follows through. He even tries to ask Carl Luce, an old friend, about sex but Carl is uncomfortable talking about it and Holden learns nothing new. Holden never learns how to control his emotions and actions about love and sex.

Lastly, Holden does not learn how to think out his actions. In the beginning, Holden makes numerous wrong decisions. He runs away from Pencey without even telling his parents he was kicked out. That was a bad decision because when his parents will have found out he would have been in even more trouble for not telling them. Holden also constantly lies to people throughout the book, which shows his immaturity. Later in the book Holden makes some really poor spur of the moment choices too. He scares Sally Hayes, a girl he goes on a date with, by telling her that they should get married and move up north and live in a cabin. He urges her to do it and even raises his voice. Sally cries and says he is crazy. This shows how Holden does not think out his actions, which in turn hurts himself and others.

He also spends money without thinking. Holden spends money on taxis, hotel rooms, food, dates, and the nuns. He does not think about managing his money and then he is forced to take his sister Phoebe’s Christmas money. This hurts himself because he does not want to take Phoebe’s money and it also hurts her because she does not have money to buy people presents. Holden’s lack of thinking hurts himself and others. Lastly, Holden plans to run away to the west and just get away from everyone. He would have done it but Phoebe stops him. Running away would have been really dumb because he didn’t have much money or anywhere to go. Holden never learns to think out his actions and this shows that he does not grow up.

In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher is the Rye, the protagonist Holden Caufield emerges from a trying and emotional series of events and does not grow emotionally but remains as immature as he was at the beginning of the novel. Holden has a violent mind and he thinks about killing people throughout the novel. He also never figures out his views on sex. He thinks he knows his views on sex and what he would do put in certain situations, but he does not follow through with his ideals. Holden also never learns how to think out his decisions. He makes many choices without putting much thought into them and this hurts himself as well as others. Holden Caufield did not emerge from that weekend as a more mature person.


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