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The problem with holden

Holden is a complex person with many conflicting characteristics. He has many

ambitions and desires for his life but he is faced with the basic conflict in the story,

corruption. This corruption is what drives him and at the same time restricts him

Holden's being surrounded by corruption disgusts him. There are a few main

instances in which Holden encounters corruption directly. One type is Stradlater, the

"secret slob"or Ernie, who "performs for the people". Two that affect Holden very

much is his brother D.B. "selling out" to the movies and Pheobe eventually having to

grow up. This corruption is very evident in Holden's life and situation.

Corruption is what Holden wants to avoid but can not because he wants to grow

up and act like an adult. Drinking, ordering the prostitute, and using money are all

things that grownups do but Holden yet still wants to remain innocent. Theses are

few of the obvious ironies of Holden's personality.

Holden's utter hate for the fact that we have to grow up and how he ties

adulthood with corruption just shows how he has a large problem determining illusion

from reality. He doesn't understand that to grow does not mean to become corrupt

but to become wiser through experience. These experiences are what frighten

Holden because this boy of sixteen has already been involved in many of the

pleasures and problems that come from these experiences. Holden's "catcher in the

rye" analogy shows how he wants to save the children from this corruption but he

never will. Holden wants to be the great savior of a helpless cause and does not

realize he has fallen into the evil hands of corruption.

Holden idolizes Allie is little brother who died. The reason for this idolization is

that Allie will never become corrupt. He will always be in Holden's mind a little boy

not affected by the dirty hands of society. Pheobe, on the other hand, will have to

enter the world sooner or later and then she too will become corrupt. D.B., though,

has already submitted to that corruption by "selling out" to the movies. Holden

realizes that D.B. has given his story to the movie business and does not like it

because he wanted his brother to continue writing the little stories he loved so much.

Pheobe, diametrically, has not yet been absorbed by society but is on her way and

Holden nor anyone else can stop her.

Holden finds corruption in almost everything he sees but does not yet even

realize that he too is part of that corrupt world the minute he stopped being a child

and wanting to be an adult. By doing many of the things he does he displays a desire

to grow up, to act mature, to ultimately blend in with society but he is restricted by

his ideals of innocence. The way he orders his drinks, dances with the two ladies in

the hotel, and sends his money frivolously shows how Holden has accepted the

reality of being an adult but can not come to terms with the fact that all children will

also enter Holden's corrupt society.

Holden's basic description of a corrupt person is a phoney. This characterization

is often harsh and unjust to many of the people he attributes this characteristic to. But

there are people that Holden does like other than Pheobe and Allie. James Castle,

Jane Gallager, the two nuns he spoke to in the coffee shop, and the little child on the

curb of the road are a few. James Castle is someone that Holden could possible

identify with. He dies because of a refusal to take something back; something that

was true. In respect to Jane Gallager Holden could possible be in love with her but

does not ask her in fear of her saying "no" but if she says "yes" he would not be able

to come through a attribute of adulthood Holden has yet to acquire.

Holden has yet to acquire many different aspects of adulthood. This is what keeps his

personality in a state of ambiguity. No one knows whether Holden wants to become an

adult or stay a child. In my opinion, he wants to continue his life as an adult but a child at

heart and mind. By doing this he destroys many incorrupt things that he has yet to

experience. Holden's whole life revolves around the battle of corruption and innocence.

This battle, through Holden's eyes, is one of adulthood verses childhood. this battle is an

impossible one an until Holden realizes this he will never leave his land of illusion and

adjust to the world.

Source: Essay UK -

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