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The Rite Of Passage In The Catcher In The Rye

1172 words - 5 pages

and A Separate Peace The rite of passage, according to Encarta, is an event or act that marks a significant transition in a human life usually referring to adulthood (Online 1). In many Indian tribes, ceremonies were held for youths trying to pass a series of tests in order to become an adult, many times the tests? involve a display of physical prowess. In Western Civilization reaching a rite of passage into adulthood can occur in many ways. The young adult must achieve an understanding about ones self and the community around him. However, this level of maturity is rarely reached without suffering emotional pain or confusion (Helfand/Bliss 1). In both A Separate Peace and The Catcher in the ...view middle of the document...

Holden?s view of the adult world is remarkably naïve. Holden is repeatedly accused of acting twelve years old and his interpretation of his role in society is awfully skewed (Behrman 322). During an intense emotional argument with Phoebe, one of the few people Holden looks up to, she asks him what he would like to be. Holden replies.? I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff?I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. (Salinger 224) Holden shows his immaturity through his idealistic childhood fantasy of his role as the protector of innocence (Sparknotes Online 1). Holden?s attempts to act older than he is are in constant conflict with his immature ideas and feelings as this quote shows. In order to pass the rite of passage into adulthood we must all leave behind our childhood. Holden struggles to understand why anyone would want to become an adult and be exposed to all the corruption. He expresses his desire to be the catcher in the rye and preserve the childhood innocence of anyone wandering to close to the edge. William Glosser puts its perfectly when he says ?Holden?s dilemma? throughout the book, is that he is unable to prevent his impending loss of that uncorrupted spirit possessed by children?..? (465). At the peak of Holden?s emotional trauma and confusion he comes to a realization at a very odd time.At the end of the novel Salinger indirectly implies his passage into adulthood. As Holden watches Phoebe ride around on the carrousel the assumption can be drawn that Holden?s happiness is a result of his passage into adulthood. William Glasser says that if we view the carrousel ?as a symbol composed of a complexity of opposite qualities and tenuous ambiguities, all existing together within a harmony of music and motion, typifies the sense of reality Holden finally perceives?(465). Using the symbolism of the carrousel Holden has...

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