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A Frightful Fall in The Catcher in the Rye Essay


Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salingers The Catcher in the Rye often feels as if he is falling into adulthood and cannot recover. J.D. Salinger begins by drawing attention to Holdens physical falls, but then shows that Holden falls emotionally as his depression develops over time. At numerous points in the novel J.D. Salinger makes Holden critical about how others around him act. Holden calls out on their minor annoyances and habits. Holden and his friends feel his mind is immature (147) and they ask him when in the hell are you going to grow up? (146). His friends negative comments towards his behavior aggravate his depression and make him feel insecure about his position between childhood and adulthood. Holden escapes his immature environment, but finds out that he cannot avoid the realities of adulthood once he leaves his childhood. These events suggest that Holden is falling into adulthood and cannot escape.

Holden begins his story with anger and loneliness, which develops into a serious depression during his journey. He begins by physically falling down when it was icy as hell (5) and he damn near fell down (5). In another circumstance, he tumbles down the stairs and he feels he damn near broke his crazy neck (52). Holden then runs away from his school, Pencey Prep, and his friends whom he feels are juvenile and boring. He flees to New York City where he tries to live life as an adult, but ends up riding for some kind of terrible, terrible fall (186) and finds he is not ready for the adult life he encounters.

The adventure upon entering into a world of adulthood marks the beginning of Holdens emotional downfall. Holden becomes wrapped up in the problems of the New York City lifestyle. He hires a prostitute only to find himself not emotionally ready to have sexual intercourse with her. He goes to bars at two oclock in the morning and gets so drunk he can hardly see straight (150) and feels like a wounded sonuvabitch (150). These two instances demonstrate Holdens inability and to cope with adulthood. Holdens troubles in his new and mature lifestyle lead to such an emotional depression that Holden exclaims I had this feeling that Id never get to the other side of the street. I thought Id just go down, down, down, and nobodyd ever see me again (197). Holdens thoughts reveal that he is emotionally falling into adulthood and is unable to get back up and escape.

Holden feels trapped between being a child and an adult at Pencey Prep. Instead of growing more mature over the next few years of high school and college, and living his years as a teen, he decides to skip them and dive right into adulthood in New York City. He ends up in an emotional downfall and wishes he could escape and be a kid again. Because Holden does not finish his years as a teenager and ends up in an emotional breakdown, J.D. Salinger suggests that it is impossible to skip from childhood to adulthood without facing the emotional consequences.

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