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Books

Adulthood Vs Preservation In The Catcher In The Rye

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The novel “The Catcher in the Rye” by J. D Salinger says that growing up is a struggle and that you should preserve your childhood as demonstrated by phoniness, conforming in society, and how Holden views the adult world. From the story we learn that growing up can take away our innocence and authenticity, growing up is inevitable, however we can choose to be genuine or not. As we grow up there are events that lead to our transition to adulthood, we can choose whether we want to be conforming in society or if we want to rebel against society’s norms. We see Holden’s view of adulthood which is depressing and the thought of growing up is Scary for him, everyone has to grow up eventually but the journey to adulthood can be different.

Growing up and moving on to the stage of adulthood can take away our innocence and lead to phoniness. As we conform in society, it can lead to phoniness since we lose sight of our true intentions and get caught up in what we need to do in order to fit in. “One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies”. “. . . they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, was the phoniest bastard I have ever met in my life. ” From these two quotes we see that the headmaster would become a phony when meeting parents, to give the school a clean image and to show mannerism. Mr. Haas acts like a phony towards the parents instead of being honest and showing that the image of other parents aren’t too nice. This relates to how growing up can lead to conforming and becoming a phony because Mr. Haas is an adult who is not being authentic towards parents (other adults) for the sake of a clean image for the school. This shows that our priorities change as we grow up and they aren’t as genuine, which is why Holden wants to preserve his childhood and the childhood of others.

Phoniness is a struggle that comes with adulthood and is why it is so hard for Holden to “grow up” because he does not want to conform, and wants to preserve his childhood and innocence. “I can just see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear asking Jesus to send him a few more shifts”. Holden is referring to Ossenburger, Holden thinks Ossenburger is a phony because as Holden describes him as someone who only cares about money and says that Ossenburger only wants god to send him corpse so he can make more money. From this we can say that this relates to growing up because usually when you grow up you are more concerned with money and it’s a big part of adulthood. Holden doesn’t like phoniness and wants to be authentic and genuine, he sees that in childhood we are genuine and innocent, this is why he wants to preserve this.

As we grow up, we face the difficulty of choosing to conform in society or not. Holden drops out of school, Pencey Prep on impulse. He rebels and choose to show non-conformity, and this makes him a non-conformist. “Look, I said. “I don’t feel very much like myself tonight. I’ve had a rough night. Honest to god. I’ll pay you and all, but do you mind very much if we don’t do it?. . . ”. From this quote we see that Holden’s experience with the prostitute shows how Holden is a non-conformist. He is obviously refusing to conform when he refuses to have sex with the prostitue Sunny, whereas other teenage boys would most likely have had sex with Sunny. Holden decides he wants ti have sex with somebody special and he wants to be good at it. When it comes to sex you are being vulnerable. He ends up trying to connect with Sunny instead which realtes to him being a non-conformist because if it were any other guy, they would just have sex, but with Holden, sex is important to him. Conformity is apart of growing up and adulthood which is why Holden rebels against conformity. “Life is a game that one plays according to the rules. . . Game my ass”. From this quote we see Holden basically saying that in life we play by the rules (conforming). He doesn’t like this which is why he revolts against playing by the rules and this is an example of how Holden is a non-conformist. This is also why Holden says “Game my ass. ” because if life is a game that consists of conforming, then it isn’t a good or fun game. Holden doesn’t like the idea of conforming in society which is why he chose to rebel and be a nonconformist.

The transition to adulthood is depressing and growing up can be scary, everyone has to go through this. . . however, the journey can be different. Throughout the story, Holden uses three techniques to cope with his depression, he smokes, drinks, and talks to Allie. “I sat in the chair for a while and smoked a couple of cigarettes. . . boy, I felt miserable. ” From this quote we see that Holden smokes a lot when he is nervous, or bored. When the stripper Sunny is in his room he noticed that she is shaking her foot as if she is nervous. He offers her a cigarette because he thinks it would help her calm down, like the cigarettes calm him down when he is nervous. This relates to how the transition to adulthood can be depressing and stressful because this quote is from when Holden was about to have sex with the prostitute. Sex, essentially is apart of adulthood and h=growing up and this makes Holden nervous since he wants to be a child and preserve his childhood. It also relates to how Holden’s journey to adulthood is difficult and he copes with it differently than others.

With adulthood can come stress, everyone deals with this differently and this could possibly affect their journey of growing up. “I lit a cigarette and got all dresses and then I packed these two Gladstones I have”. From this quote we see another example of Holden smoking when he is under stress. The quote is from when Holden decides to leave Pencey and go to New York after his fight with Ackley. As he was packing to leave, he lit a cigarette, this shows yet again how Holden copes with his stress. Also, when he got in the argument with Ackley he was drunk, because he had gotten in a fight with Stradlater. From this we see that Holden’s journey to adulthood and him growing up is not a good one. And this can happen to anyone. Growing up isn’t easy and we face many challenges along the way, and adulthood can be stressful and depressing.

From everything we’ve seen throughout the story we can say that growing up is a struggle and that instead we should preserve our childhood. We can confirm this based on the phoniness, conforming in society, and how Holden views the adult world. We learn that growing up can take away our innocence and authenticity, growing up is inevitable, however we can choose to be genuine or not. As we grow up there are events that lead to our transition to adulthood, we can choose whether we want to be conforming in society or if we want to rebel against society’s norms. We see Holden’s view of adulthood which is depressing and the thought of growing up is Scary for him, everyone has to grow up eventually but the journey to adulthood can be different. Therefore, we can conclude by saying that childhood is something that needs to be preserved and that growing up is a struggle.

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