Discuss how Holden in 'The Catcher in the Rye,"  is not mentally ill, but rather just a confused teenager.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the argument which suggests Holden is a confused teenager has to reside in an understanding of adolescence.  Holden is experiencing an intense moment of adolescent growth and development and this is defined by much of what he experiences.  One of the defining elements of adolescence is the consideration of abstract ideas.  I think that Holden displays this with his analysis of "phoniness" and the idea of in-authenticity within people.  This firm of higher- ordered thought is something that Holden displays to a great extent.  Holden's analysis of people, their motivations, and the social dimension in which they act are all examples of this abstract thought.  He simply engages in this to a heightened degree.  Additionally, Holden displays elements of intense adolescence in how he perceives individuals in relationship to their social reality.  Holden is enduring the adolescent tendency to understand how individuals, including himself, requires independence and a sense of autonomy.  However, he also recognizes the contradictory desire to need a social affiliation.  This battle between independent thought and belonging represent a critical defining point in adolescent experience and Holden examines this throughout the novel in his deconstruction of others and himself.  In these examples, Holden is a teen who is enduring adolescence to an intense level.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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