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Explain further the following conflict in Holden from The Catcher in the Rye: he likes...

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merttrk | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 21, 2012 at 9:16 PM via web

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Explain further the following conflict in Holden from The Catcher in the Rye: he likes that the carousel always plays the same song and doesn't want change, yet he knows that his sister is in the midst of growing up.

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gcampane | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 1, 2012 at 11:14 AM (Answer #1)

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Holden's conflict isn't internal (within himself) as much as it is external (against outside forces).  Holden's main goal is to be the Catcher in the Rye, the one who "saves" kids from falling off the cliff and into adulthood.  Holden considers adults, including himself, phoney, and he is trying to preserve the innocence of youth at all costs. 

Of course, he can't prevent people from growing up and losing their innocence, and there lies his main conflict. 

Holden doesn't like change, because change indicates growing up.  Which is why he values the museum - nothing changes.  Exhibits remain the same no matter how much time passes. 

It saddens Holden to see that Phoebe can now reach the brass ring  in the carrousel because it means she has gotten bigger, and is growing up.  This also shows that Holden's values are much different from the mainstream society, the brass ring is usually a symbol of attaining success in American society, "grabbing the brass ring," but to Holden, the brass ring indicates a failure. If Phoebe is growing up, she is no longer going to be innocent, and will soon become corrupt and "phoney" like all other adults.

 

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