Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger: Dangling Between Childhood And Adulthood

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Life is a beautiful Journey. You think you have it all figured out and have a plan. You think you have figured out your destination and the road that leads there. You are excited and feel like you know which direction you are heading in, but then suddenly the path changes, the signs change, the wind blows the other way. North is suddenly south and East is West and you are completely lost. All alone in a stranger place, you have never been before. You don’t know what to do. You are suddenly helpless and lonely. This is something many teenagers experience nowadays. This is what Holden experienced. It represents the most crucial stage of life when you are a teenager, dangling between childhood and adulthood. With the support of the study provided by Ph.D. epidemiologist Nicole Valtorta and research paper on teen psychology provided by Jason Fletcher, it can be proved that The catcher in the Rye, a youth novel written by JD Salinger, should be included in the high school curriculum as it helps teenagers relate with problems faced during adolescence and does a wonderful job in displaying some of the mature themes and gives hope to the youth who seem to have lost themselves.

It is important to make teens understand the concept of death. One of the themes Catcher in the Rye deals with is the death of a sibling and family bonding. This is something that many teenagers relate to as mentioned in the study research provided by Valtorta. According to the statistics provided by the National Centre for Health Statistics, 50,000 children die every year in the United States. Holden suffers from the death of his younger brother Allie. One of the misconceptions that many people believe, according to a psychotherapist, Jerry Rothman is that ‘children don’t mourn their sibling’s death. But this belief is false. After the death of a sibling, teens are neglected by their parents. Holden says that “they are also touchy as hell.” (Salinger, 3). He is emotionally vulnerable but he doesn’t have anyone close to conveying his feelings. Also, he isolates himself from the outside world. Holden was not provided with the comfort of his family or friends. “Lacking encouragement from friends and family, those who are lonely may slide into unhealthy habits, (‘Effects of loneliness and isolation, Novotney, 32) ” says Valtorta in her study paper. Holden has also engaged in unhealthy habits such as Smoking and Drinking. Just like Holden, many teenagers feel conflicted and also join into such unhealthy habits for channeling their frustration. The main concept that JD Salinger is trying to display is that like Holden, teens are also lost and they don’t have a real home that they can return to for emotional comfort. So they tend to isolate themselves from the outer world. But further, the book provides hope to these teens when he shows Holden returning to Phoebe. Even though Phoebe is young, she understands him. This gives hope that there is always someone there for you who you can talk with freely.

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One of the hidden symbolism in the Catcher in the Rye teaches a very important lesson that Some important memories are worth holding onto. This can be proved through Holden’s visit to the museum. Holden recalls many old memories on his visits to the museum. One of the things about the museum that Holden holds onto is that it has remained the same, “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was.” (Salinger, 157). This symbolizes a sense of holding on to past memories even when everything else has changed. Holden is now older, he has lost his brother Allie, he doesn’t have a very close emotional bonding with his parents, he is more mature, but still, the museum has captured his innocence as a child and the memory has always stayed intact with him. Also, he remembers that he was terrified of the guards who would always make sure that children would never touch the glass or anything valuable for that matter, “Don’t touch anything, children.” (Salinger, 157). But now only does he understand that humans tend to break glasses and destroy things just as they harm innocent childhood memories. Salinger is conveying that some childhood memories and moments are worth holding on to even though you are not the same or things have changed.

One of the important life lessons is that the world doesn't revolve around us and it’s important to fail while trying to succeed. Disney is often misunderstood as a kid's entertainment area with magical worlds and fairytale endings. But with such entertaining magical worlds, some of the family shows made by Disney teach important life lessons. One such show named Girl Meets the World is following through the journey of teenage girl Riley Matthews and her friends, who are exploring the world. One of the famous all-time favorite quotes by Riley reveals the secret of life, “We think we're the center of the universe. We think everything revolves around us. We depend on the sun for light, for warmth, every morning, every day. When it's gone, we sleep, trusting that in the morning it will always come back again. (Matthews)” A similar concept is being depicted by Salinger where all kids along with Phoebe are trying to grab gold rings while on a carousel. There is always a fear that the kids might fall and hurt themselves, just like there is a fear that the night may never end and the sun will never rise again. But we still sleep, trusting that the sun will rise upon us the next morning just like the kids will pass through this fall and succeed. Salinger's basic concept is to say that teenagers should be allowed to try their own things. Even if they might fail, we must trust that these failures would only lead to their success. One can not always clear their paths of failures so they can directly reach success because failing is important. Just like you can not remove the existence of night because you fear that the sun will never rise.

We lose ourselves in books, we find ourselves there too. The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger, is still a classic. The book still does not fail to captivate the readers even after almost 70 years of its publication. Holden Caulfield is such a strong fictional character made by Salinger that the teenagers lose themselves in his journey. They are experiencing Holden’s journey to figure out life and finding one’s true self. The writing is so true that it seems like reality to teenagers who have lost hope. It inspires them. The life lessons provide aspiration to the youth as it teaches about conservation of innocence and not to lose hope. The pressure and competition are so high on fragile youngsters that they are disheartened easily. But as the book says that it is alright to make our own mistakes and to fail, teenagers should be allowed to make mistakes while they are exploring the world and figuring out life. Because when you rise from your fall, then only can you understand and learn about your surroundings. Then only can you figure out your path to success and learn about the secret of life. Just like after exploring the adult world in New York, Holden was able to realize his mistakes and take the right path to find his true self. And then just like suddenly all directions were changed, now everything falls back in place and one finds their true self. Thus, The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger, should be included in the high school curriculum.

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Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger: Dangling Between Childhood And Adulthood. (2021, July 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
“Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger: Dangling Between Childhood And Adulthood.” Edubirdie, 30 Jul. 2021,
Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger: Dangling Between Childhood And Adulthood. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Apr. 2024].
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