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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

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Holden Caulfield moves from a state of innocence in childhood and adolescence to one of experience in adulthood. Do you agree with this statement?

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During the course of events in the novel, which he narrates, Holden Caulfield remains an adolescent. The disturbing progress of his mental decline is halted by his entering a facility; although it is not specifically described, it is apparently an rehabilitation center or a hospital. Holden has not yet become an adult.

The events he describes from a later vantage point occurred over only a few days. This brief period covers the time from his expulsion from Pencey Prep to watching Phoebe on carousel in Central Park. However, before Holden began attending Pencey, his younger brother, Allie, died from leukemia. He, his parents, and his sister mourned the boy's loss and were still grieving for Allie. Because leukemia is a debilitating type of cancer that weakens the ill person for months beforehand, the Caulfields had probably witnessed Allie's decline for months. Those experiences had decidedly taken away much of Holden's childhood innocence. Grief has contributed to his arrested development in a stage of adolescence more usually associated with a younger teenager. One hopes that his stay in the facility will include appropriate grief counseling.

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