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How does the quote by Wilhem Stekel relate to Holden?this is the quote, "The mark of...

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yangk15 | eNoter

Posted June 2, 2012 at 9:25 PM via web

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How does the quote by Wilhem Stekel relate to Holden?

this is the quote, "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one" 

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 20, 2012 at 2:38 AM (Answer #1)

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The quote from  the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Stekel is read to Holden by Mr. Antolini in chapter 24. It is:

The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.

It is hard to see how Antolini thinks this applies to Holden Caulfield, since the boy is not the type to go in much for “causes.” No doubt Holden is immature, and no doubt Antolini perceives him as immature, but Antolini must believe that Holden is much more interested in “causes” than he really is. Holden doesn’t seem to care too much about living or dying, but he seems more likely to do one or the other for personal reasons rather than for any ideology.

The only applicability in the quote would seem to be in the words “immature” and “mature.” Here, as elsewhere throughout the novel, Holden is being pressured internally and externally to grow up. In Chapter 19, for example, Carl Luce tells him repeatedly to "grow up." This seems to be Holden’s number-one problem, the reason he keeps getting expelled from schools, the reason he feels so uncomfortable with himself, the reason he gives his parents so much trouble: he is growing up physically but resisting growing up mentally. He actually seems to realize this and to realize that growing up is something he is going to have to do, although he doesn’t understand quite how to go about it.

It isn’t until the end of the novel that he seems to relinquish his attachment to his childhood. When he sees his little sister riding around and around on the carousel and trying to catch the gold ring, which is really made of brass, he realizes that childhood is only a stage and that everybody gets a turn at trying to catch the gold ring. He has had his turn and it is time to move on.

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