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Literary Essay Example: Salinger's Definition of the Adolescent

3 pages
645 words
Sewanee University of the South
Type of paper: 
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Describe Holdens journey from being a schoolboy leaving Pencey, towards an adolescent finding his ground in New York

I feel the description of Holdens transition from childhood to adulthood as complicated and confusing. From the onset, Holden is unsure of his next course of action both when holding conversations and acting. It reveals misbehavior for a college student to approach individuals one finds interacting with your former girlfriend and boyfriend. For this reason, I feel Holdens decision to approach Stradlater for taking his former girlfriend, Jane out. This appears misplaced to me and disrespect both to Jane, Stradlater and himself. I agree with the illustration of Holden being childish, especially when he insists on knowledge of their intimacy. Fighting with Stradlater shows youthful aggression that leaves him with a bleeding nose. I interpret this as immaturity and indicating the inability for Holden to solve challenges with sobriety and respect.

The path followed by Holden appears missing crucial steps to adulthood despite his exposure to the grown-up world. I interpret this as lacking enough direction in his life and failure to show respect to other people. This manifests when he regards his brother a prostitute on learning that he switched role to form a book writer to writing movie scripts. I perceive this as poor understanding of Holden and lagged transition. It appears the case from his tendency to describe people and things using the word phony. What displeases me is the inability to control his emotions when he exclaimed loudly Sleep tight, ya maroon!

Concept of Adolescence in Salingers Novel

The scene where Holden inquired from the driver, What happens to the ducks in the pond in central park when the pond freezes over? reveals the wary in adolescents when they discover their mistakes. I think that though Holden was scared and worried about the next course of action to navigate the misfortune that befell him. I find the context of the ducks indicating the symbolism in the novel on how adolescents should strive to overcome challenges they encounter. Although Holden desires to know what the ducks do equate to the thoughts crossing his mind on what to do? Where is he going? How to overcome this situation?

Compare with your own experience of being an adolescent. Is Salingers an accurate description?

Owing to my own experience of being an adolescent, immorality, and irresponsibility has not been to that extreme is depicted by Salinger's description. Holdens experience as an adolescent creates a reality defined by sexual hooliganism and extreme immoral behavior. For instance, in his young age, Holden engages in clubbing and fails terribly in his school work which portrays him as an irresponsible student. He is further portrayed as very decadent based on the manner in which he describes people. In my experience as an adolescent, this has been way much different and showed no correlation to Salinger's definition of the adolescent concerning Holden story.

Discuss whether or not you think adolescence is changing. Is it the same to grow up now as it were for Holden? If not, what has changed?

Time has changed and so have many events changed with the change in time. A couple of things are however accustomed to their nature from the beginning, and no significant change has been noticed. For instance, adolescence behavior in teens has been characterized by the behavior of immaturity and irresponsibility. With the influence of peer pressure, teenagers have been so much prone to the same conduct of irresponsibility over and over from ages back. However, with the changing times and events which have highly prompted westernization, current age parents, unlike parents from older generations, seem to be less vigilant on their children behavior further increasing the magnitude of irresponsibility and immaturity behavior in underage teens. This creates a huge difference in growing at Holdens time as it is growing up now.


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