Parallels Between the Conflicts of J.D. Salinger and Holden Caulfield from Catcher and the Rye

Parallels Between the Conflicts of J.D. Salinger and Holden Caulfield from Catcher and the Rye

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Holden’s Conflicts
One of the greatest American Literature writers, J.D. Salinger, was familiar with a rough childhood by experience. He was able to parallel his experiences to the experiences of Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in The Catcher in Rye. In this novel, Holden experiences conflicts that most youth are not familiar with. The conflicts in Holden Caulfield’s life are caused by various forces and circumstances.
One of the main conflict’s in the novel, The Catcher in the Rye, is the recurring theme of innocence. Holden attempts to resist maturing and wants to live his life as an innocent adolescent, by staying the same, like the exhibits in the Museum of Natural History. As he reflects on the corruption of innocence throughout the novel, he realizes that he cannot remain innocent forever. While sneaking home to see his mentally unblemished little sister Phoebe, she asks him what he wants to do with his life. Holden responses to her question with a quote from a poem called “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye” by Robert Burns. This poem is about two kids having sex in a field, but Holden believes that the poem is about kids playing in a rye field. He relates this to what he wants to do in life by stating, “ I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all” (Salinger 173). Holden implies if you fall of the cliff of childhood you mature, but if Holden catches you, you remain innocent.

Holdens views on innocence directly impacted the way he viewed of adults. The views h...

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...neliness is difficult to fess up to”, Holden is able to openly tell the reader that he is lonely and there is nothing he can do about it (Olien).

J.D. Salinger's experience with a rough childhood was critical in the making of this novel. Without the knowledge of a rough childhood, Salinger wouldn’t have been able to parallel himself through Holden Caulfield. Through out the novel Holden was often caught up in many issues that tended to bring him down and or make him mad. Whether he was flawed by innocence or authority, he was still able to change his ways of thinking by the end of the story to create a classic American bildungsroman.

Works Cited
Olien, Jessica. "Loneliness Can Kill You. Don't Let It." Slate Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2014 Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown, 1951. Print.

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