Explain what the first paragraph of Catcher in the Rye reveals about Holden Caulfield's 'fate'?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The opening paragraph does much to bring out Holden's character.  The David Copperfield reference is a direct statement that what is envelops the reader over the course of the narrative is going to challenge the conventional belief of what defines maturation and the process of the bildungsroman.  At the same time, the fact that Holden makes it very clear that his parents would have "two hemorrhages a piece if I told anything personal about them" reflects a couple of aspects that will define Holden's experience throughout the novel.  The first is his mistrust of adults.  This will preclude him from taking any personal advice from them, well intentioned as it may be.  Additionally, it also reveals how Holden values the idea of the personal recollection and personal disclosure.  This will be profoundly important at the end when Holden defines how individuals break apart from one another with the disclosure of personal information.  In this light, Holden places a strong emphasis on telling personal information, recognizing that it is not for him to share, but also mocking the idea that his relationship with his parents is not strong enough to endure such an element.  Finally, the closing reference to prostitution and Holden's disdain for the films represents how Holden is going to struggle with the notion of being "true" and being "accepted."  In this duality, Holden sets up one of the most fundamental paradigms that will encompass his reality throughout the narrative.

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