The Novel “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger is often know for being the novel that led to the death of pop culture icon John Lennon, but it is also known as one of the greatest novels ever written. Although it does not move me to strike down a Beatle, it does move me to consider my own relationships and what we as a society value and promote among each other.
At the beginning of the novel, Holden Caulfield’s pessimism prevents him from succeeding, or even attempting to fit in society, because he is too close minded to the world around him. However by the end of the novel he learns to accept others and to take action in his life.
As the novel begins we are introduced to a character that can only really be described as quirky. The very first social encounter that the reader hears about is the football game, and from the beginning Holden separates himself from the rest of the school and sits on the opposing side of the school. This is quite symbolic because in every situation that Holden encounters, he will do the exact opposite of what society expects. “The whole school except for [Holden] was there” and so the reader is introduced to the isolationist and pessimistic attitudes that Holden takes in the world (Salinger 5). His initial interactions with the reader suggest that he is disappointed with his past and believes that he will have a bleak future. He says to Mr. Spencer in their meeting that he feels “some concern for [his] future… but not too much” (Salinger 20). Despite bordering on adulthood, he shares the same views on the future with that of a young child who just has a inkling of what they might accomplish in the future. This attitude prevents Holden from preparing for the future and addr...
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Holden embarked on his journey as a pessimist, and slowly gained insight and knowledge about this strange world that we live in. His pessimism held him back for most of the story but as it progresses and Holden recovers, he is essentially reborn after traveling through his traumatic experiences. Holden, along with the reader, learns that pessimism or premature judgment of “phonies” is immature, and that true maturity relies with accepting change. This is the change that he accepts and decides to move forward with as the treasure from his puzzling odyssey. Although this novel contains no plot points that would be shared with an action adventure novel, it can be seen as the adventures of change, adaptation and maturity as Holden moves beyond his deeply internalized struggle against the world, and he accepted the world as his own.
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