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Identity Crisis In Adolescence As Portrayed By Erik Ericson In Relation To Stories Of "The Catcher In The Rye" And "Ragged Dick"

1652 words - 7 pages

Identity Crisis in Adolescence as Portrayed by Erik Ericson in Relation to Stories of "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Ragged Dick"
Erikson defines identity crisis as “a time of intensive analysis and exploration of different ways of looking at oneself” (Erikson, 20-27). He studied cultural life among various indigenous tribes such as the Yurok of Northern California and the Sioux of South Dakota from which he developed the theories of identity development and identity crisis.
Erikson did describe identity as a sense and an observable quality of personal image and continuity which is usually combined with some belief in the image and commencement of shared world perspective (Erikson, 17- ...view middle of the document...

For instance, Holden invited his old friend Sally to a musical and expected Sally to oblige to his wishes of running away with him and when Sally turned down the offer Holden became furious and gave a spontaneous remark abusing Sally. After losing Sally he stayed in the City for three days drinking. The behavior Holden exposed is that of a vulnerable teenager in the sense that he turns to the most immediate option of forgetting disappointments that is drinking.
Holden believes that being a “catcher in the rye” basically means saving little ones from losing their respective innocence. This misinterpretation has made Holden want to be greatly involved in rescuing kids from such vulnerability (Salinger, 56-79). Holden sees an available role for which he steers on to execute duties that would make him feel in control. In a different scenario Holden realizes that it won’t be possible for him to always be available to save kids. This is shown when he took his sister to the Central Park Zoo. Holden realizes the mistakes he has been making immediately when his sister rides the carousel that he also needs other people for support.
Erik Erikson mentions that adolescents strive to meet their mentors, people whom they will really like to associate with. In the same chapter, Mr. Antolini, a much admired English teacher gets to meet Holden in the middle of the night and offers a piece of advice (on life) and provides a place to sleep for Holden. He tells Holden that to be seen as a mature man one has to live humbly for a cause than to die nobly. Mr. Antolini is viewed as a great mentor who shapes Holden thoughts about life. Holden turns out to be a respecter of his seniors especially on the matters concerning life skills. His adoration for Mr. Antolini leads to a compromising situation to the point that we are left to wonder if there was any sexual encounter between the two. Holden finally gets to understand his inner self following the experiences encountered.
In "Ragged Dick" story by Horatio J. Alger the protagonist, Dick, is a fourteen year old teen whose life is filled with angst, rage and who frequently drinks and smokes. Erikson defines this critical stage of adolescent as the stage of getting to identify oneself or ending up with role confusion (Ericson, 24-26). Dicks’ effort in trying to get noticed and felt results in him engaging in unlawful utterances by trying to portray himself as a police officer which is impossible for his age (Alger, 47-49).
"Ragged Dick" is portrayed as being someone who is quick to temper, for instance He became agitated with Frank "I ain't used to genteel society," said Dick. "I shouldn't know how to behave." "Then I could show you. You won't be a boot-black all your life, you know." (Horatio, 5-66).
Dick is also seen to have the urge of growing up and being respected by society. He goes on to buy a new suit so that he can fit into the mature class of people in society. "He would have knowen me at once if it...

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