Growing up poses challenges to most people at some point in their lives. 16-year-old Holden Caufield is no exception.
He is an apathetic teenager who’s flunked out of many schools. Underneath the cynical exterior though, Holden is troubled. He has different methods for escaping his problems but in the end they just cause him more problems. J.D Salinger, in his novel The Catcher in the Rye shows that often times when an individual faces problems in their life they will try to find a means to escape, instead of solving them.
Throughout the novel Holden seems to be excluded from any group.He feels alienated from the rest of society, but I believe that Holden stays bitter on purpose. He keeps a cynical, sarcastic outlook on life so as to escape his true feelings. This is not uncommon for people who have trouble accepting their problems. Many of the times that Holden criticizes people it is something he does himself. (Pg 13) “… one of the reasons I left Elkton was that I was surrounded by phonies…” Holden himself is many times what he refers to as a “phony”. He knows that he lies and pretends to like people that he would rather not be with.
(Pg 125)“… I told her I loved her and all. It was a lie of course…” His bitterness is a shield against his reality, a reality he doesn’t like at all. Yet at the same time Holden really wants to communicate with people. (Pg 66) “ I damn near gave my kid sister Phoebe a buzz…” He is torn between the two ways to act and cannot reach conclusions about himself. Fantasies about an innocent and pure world are another means of escape for Holden. He often is moved by images of children doing completely innocent things. (Pg.
115) “The kid was swell…He was just singing for the hell of it, you could tell.” This longing for innocence is another example of his detachment to society. He wants to retreat into this kind of world.
Holden creates barriers between himself and reality through his fantasies. He feels that children are innocent and carefree and honest while adults are phony and hypocritical. Many times Holden turns towards his younger sister Phoebe for someone to talk to. (Pg 156) “ Anyway, I couldn’t get that off my mind so finally what I figured I’d do, I figured I’d better sneak home and see her…” She listens to him without being overly judgmental and is an escape to innocence for him. Holden’s dream of being “the catcher in the rye”(Pg 173)“And I’m standing on the edge of this crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-…I’d just.