The Catcher In The Rye Is A Story By J. D. Salinger: Holden Caulfield’S Age Controversies

Holden is at a difficult age where he feels stuck – not just in a spatial and emotional stage, but also in regards to time. He holds the past with high regard, thinking pleasantly back to the days where his brother Allie was alive and before D. B. left to join the collection of America’s largest phonies. At the same time, Holden fears the future, seeing it as bleak and something he needs to escape from. He jumped at one chance to escape desperately when he asked Sally to run away with him, even though his feelings for her (and vice versa) were questionable.

Despite everyone around him changing, Holden wishes people could be like the museum he loved visiting as a child, the museum where “everything always stayed right where it was” and “nobody’d be different” aside from the one visiting (Salinger 157). And yet, despite loving the museum so much, he ends up not going. Maybe Holden realizes that he can’t go back to the past, and that the museum would instead be a bitter reminder of this. I think this is the case because he talks about how “certain things … should stay the way they are”, but realizes this is impossible while he walks to the museum (Salinger 158).

Even though he realizes that certain things will change, he does not perceive this in other people. Holden continually idolizes Jane Gallgher and their past friendship, even though it has been years since the two last spoke. He is overly protective of her and remember small details such as where she kept her kings during games of checkers. If he were to meet Jane in person again, he would see that she has changed. Maybe, much like the museum, Holden doesn’t call Jane because he realizes this, instead of the phony reason he gives that her mother would pick up – after all, he has no problem calling Sally even though her mother picked up.

This is further seen when Holden goes out for drinks with Carl Luce. He planned to have an intellectual talk, and yet all Holden can ask him about is his sex life. He jokes around continually - “What’yre you majoring in? … Perverts? ” – despite Luce’s constant objections and requests to change the subject (Saligner 187). Holden does not acknowledge that Luce has matured, and so he still brings up the same topics that the two used to discuss back in school, which was often sexual in nature.

Perhaps this is why Holden likes children more than adults, besides the fact that they are honest and innocent. He feels a need to protect them from what he’s suffered, and wants to be a shelter against the harsh, cruel world he’s come to perceive. He doesn’t see himself moving on and joining the other adults, and has no plan to do so, with his only plan entailing running away to another state. Since he knows he cannot regress to childhood, Holden’s best plan, it seems to him, is to stay stuck and simply deal with it.

15 April 2020
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