The Catcher In The Rye

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In the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield has a deep-rooted desire to keep himself and the world around him from changing. In fact the novel was banned partially "based on the perception that Holden is an unregenerate, and unchanged person." However there is evidence that Holden does change near the end of the novel. It is incorrect to say that Holden stays unchanged from start to finish, because by the end of the novel he is trying to rid himself of his defensive nature and accept change as a good thing. Holden has no desire to let himself or others change, yet through his experiences and looking back on what occurred, Holden realizes that change is inevitable and in order to grow as a human being he can only accept what must transpire. From the beginning of the novel Holden alienates himself from society by ignoring helpful advice and holding on to his desire that everything in the world must remain unchanged. In the second chapter of the novel Holden purposely ignores Mr. Spencer's advice that "life is a game that one plays according to the rules" (Catcher 8) thinking to himself "Game, my ass" (Catcher 8). Holden disagrees with Mr. Spencer's claim that life is a game that should be played by the rules because if Holden played by the rules than he would have to be like everyone else, and Holden considers everyone else, for the most part, to be "Phonies." Holden's strong desire to prevent change is reflected in his talk with Phoebe later on in the novel. She demands that Holden "name one thing" (Catcher 169) that he likes to do, and Holden tells her that he would "just be the catcher in the rye and all", catching "everybody if they start to go over the cliff" (Catcher 173). We see Holden's desire to maintain an unchanged environment. Holden would be content if he could prevent those children that are playing by the cliff from changing. By alienating himself, Holden creates a resistance to change, because when no one can influence his decisions or the way he acts than he has become insusceptible to change. Yet as the novel progress Holden finds that trying to prevent change is a far-fetched dream. As the novel reaches the last few chapters Holden slowly begins the process of inner change.

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