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…st occurrences, as Adam did. Each character leads the reader to believe he may not have reached his end if he were not in seclusion.
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Draper, James P., ed. World Literature Criticism. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992.
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Catcher in the Rye Essay: Powerless Holden
In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden views the world as an evil and corrupt place where there is no peace. This perception of the world does not change significantly through the novel. However, as the novel progresses, Holden gradually comes to the realization that he is powerless to change this.
During the short period of Holden’s life covered in this book, “Holden does succeed in making us perceive that the world is crazy”1. Shortly after Holden leaves Pencey Prep, he checks in to the Edmont Hotel. This is where Holden’s turmoil begins. Holden spends the following evening in this hotel which was “full of perverts and morons. [There were] screwballs all over the place.”2. His situation only deteriorates from this point, as the more he looks around the world, the more depressing life seems.
Around every corner Holden sees evil. He looks out on a world which appears completely immoral and unscrupulous. The three days that the novel covers place a distressed Holden in the vicinity of Manhattan. The city is decked with decorations and holiday splendor, yet, much to Holden’s despair “seldom yields any occasions of peace, charity or even genuine merriment.”3. Holden is surrounded by what he views as drunks, perverts, morons and screwballs. These convictions that Holden hold waver very momentarily during one particular scene in the book. The scene is with Mr. Antolini. After Mr. Antolini patted Holden on the head while he was sleeping, Holden jumped up and ran out thinking that Mr. Antolini was a pervert as well. This is the only time during the novel where Holden thinks twice about considering someone a pervert. After reviewing Mr. Antolini, Holden finally concludes that maybe he was not making a “flitty” pass at him. He wonders if he just like patting guys heads as they sleep. This is the only time in the novel where Holden actually considers a positive side to something. However, this event does not constitute a significant change. As Holden himself says, “It’s not too bad when the sun’s out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out.”4. The sun, of course, is a reference to decency through the common association of light and goodness. His perception of the world remains the same.
The one conviction that does change during the novel is Holden’s belief that he can change the world.