In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye, Holden Caulfield, a boy transitioning to a man, views the world as an evil, corrupt place, where innocence is lost. Holden is extremely pessimistic and only chooses to see the hatred in the world. Holden wants to change the world to make it a peaceful place on his journey to adulthood, by the only way for him to progress as an individual he has to realize that one man can’t change the world by himself, which he does start to realize. He does not recognize the beauty in the world throughout the book until the end when he takes Phoebe to the carousel, and sees how happy she is.Holden sees corruption everywhere around him and blames adults for the evil in the world.
Holden tries to reveal what he truly feels to Sally on their date by asking “Do you ever get fed up”. He then says an improvised plan on how they can escape the world Holden fears, and to create a new life together. He wants to live in a childlike world where there are no conflicts and everyone is truthful. Which is evident when he tries to prove to himself that he can preserve the . He thinks to save the world, he has to shield his sister, Phoebe, and other children from the terrible things that go on outside of his control like adulthood.
He always shows love and praise to those younger than him, and it is shown in his family, he thinks of Allie as “a nice kid” (Salinger 38). He always relies on Allie when he has a problem or is contemplating life. He loves Phoebe so much and she is one of the only good things left in the world for him. She is filled with innocence, and he always mentions how she kills him, when she does something funny, or immature. He is willing to do anything to make Phoebe happy. He has a deep inner conflict with himself because he thinks that he can change the world, but instead of realizing that it is impossible to fix, he can not grow out of his childlike dreams and continues to blame someone or something for the world being the way it is. He can not understand why people do cruel things and he needs an answer for it. Usually there is no answer and he will learn that soon enough.
Holden always labels people as phonies when he notices flaws in them, like when he fights Stradlater after his date with Jane, because of what he thought a phony like Stradlater would do to a nice girl like Jane. Holden thinks everyone is a phony his classmates, his teachers and anyone who objects with his idea of a good person. Holden has one viewpoint on the world and does not compromise or change his opinion on things, this is another reason why he is not fully mature. Holden is like all of us in a way because we all wish the world was innocent and not so cruel to everyone. Holden is our innermost childlike beliefs in action, trying to take a stand for what is right.
He is oftentimes absent and oblivious to what is going on around him, because he is daydreaming about his childhood girlfriend, Jane, or is acting immature. Holden lost much of his innocence when his brother, Allie died. That was his best friend, and it seems Holden will never let go of him. He has not moved on since and that is another reason why he can not mature.
The death of Allie traumatized Holden along with the death of the roomate of Holden, James Castle, who wore his sweater while jumping to his death. Holden lost most of his hope, and innocence in those moments. These are the events which cause Holden to hate the adults in the world for causing corruption and what make him want to save a new generation from losing their innocence and purity like him.Holden often alienates himself to protect himself from becoming emotionally attached to others. Holden says “Don’t ever tell anybody anything.
If you do, you start missing everybody” (Salinger 67). This means he is scared to meet new people and form new relationships because if he does, he is afraid that it will end terribly, like his brother Allie. So he keeps himself locked away, to keep the pain of losing a friend gone forever. This is also why he destroys almost every relationship he creates. Holden does this but then he does not take good care of himself.
He helps other people instead of himself. He does not focus on his own problems he thinks of the problems of other people, and creates solutions for them, but he is the one who needs his own help. He is failing every class except english, that is the fourth school he failed, and he has no real friends.
Holden has given up on himself, he gives people good advice and never takes it for himself. This is why Holden did not change throughout the novel. He is a static character and will be doing the same things and making the same mistakes throughout his whole life. He has not gained wisdom or learned throughout his journey with the reader, so it is safe to say that he will never change and will always be caught up in the lives of other people until he realizes it is too late.Holden will always hold the world in a negative light, and will never fully mature. He will be a kid trapped inside a man’s body for the rest of his life because he can not bring himself to change what is wrong with him.
He feels that he has to save society but can not save himself first. That is like a cripple teaching people how to run a marathon. To give advice you should show by example rather than precept.