The Contemporary North American Teenager - Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger)

Essay by blue_soda025High School, 11th grade May 2004

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In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, the behaviour and attitudes displayed by Holden Caulfield, the novel's protagonist, do much to bolster an unflattering stereotype of the contemporary North American teenager. What is the stereotype of the contemporary North American teenager? Is it someone who follows the rules and doesn't go against authority or is it someone who is trying to find their place in the world? They have poor relationships with their parents and parents who do not seem to worry about their school grades. Holden's parents in Salinger's novel seem almost non-existent. Another characteristic they possess is that they do not accept change. Lastly, they use excessive profanity in their vocabulary and participate in inappropriate activities. Holden displays all of those behaviours and attitudes in Salinger's novel.

After primary school, Holden has been sent to prep school after prep school. The reason is attributed to him dropping out continuously.

This could be seen as a call for attention from his parents. It also shows that his parents do not really care about his achievements in school. In the scene where Holden sneaks into his family's apartment to visit his sister, Phoebe, it demonstrates the absentness of his parents. At a time when he needed someone to talk to and confide in, his parents were not even home. When they did come home, and his mother smelt the cigarette smoke in Phoebe's room, she did not really show any concern when Phoebe claimed she had lit it.

Holden is not open to change and is not prepared for it. The museum's displays are appealing to him because they are always frozen and unchanging. He mentions that he is troubled by the fact that every time he returns to the museum, he has changed. The museum also...