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.He takes an obvious step toward change when he is at Grand Central station thinking about the time he spent with Mr. Antolini.
He thinks back to when he woke up to Mr. Antolini “patting (him) on the head” and worries if “maybe (he) was wrong about thinking he (Mr. Antolini) was making a flitty pass at (him)” (Catcher 194).The fact the Holden worried about how he had judged an adult is a clear sign of change.
Holden had written all adults off as being old and being phonies, so to re-think his judgment on an adult is a significant change for Holden.He than recognizes that he “was more depressed than (he) ever was in (his) whole life” (Catcher 194) and he decides to “say goodbye to old Phoebe”(Catcher 199).His visit with Phoebe serves as the major turning point in Holden’s character change.
While Phoebe is riding on the carousel, Holden watches as she keeps “trying to grab for the gold ring”, Holden was “sort of afraid she’d fall off…but (he) didn’t say anything” (Catcher 211).Holden than says that “If they fall off, they fall off”(Catcher 211). This statement signifies an enormous.