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The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger
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Prove that Holden is a normal average teenager.

In some ways, Holden Caulfield displays traits that are typical of teenagers. His commitment to a mental hospital or sanatorium is not as strange as it may seem, especially considering the emotional toll that the loss of his beloved brother Allie has had upon him. Holden's mistrust of adults and his opinion of people as being phony is also fairly typical of teenagers. Holden is extremely critical of people, but because he is intelligent and has been sent to a boarding school, he is probably more sensitive to people's words and actions. Holden's use of vulgar language and his preoccupation with sex is also typical for a male teenager.

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In some ways, Holden Caulfield displays traits that are typical of teenagers.

In recent times, empirical research has demonstrated that certain pubertal developmental stages exhibit a "rise in the rate of psychiatric symptoms and syndromes." In fact, interest in the developmental stages of adolescence has increased among researchers in the...

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In some ways, Holden Caulfield displays traits that are typical of teenagers.

In recent times, empirical research has demonstrated that certain pubertal developmental stages exhibit a "rise in the rate of psychiatric symptoms and syndromes." In fact, interest in the developmental stages of adolescence has increased among researchers in the fields of psychotic disorders. Research has shown that because of the increase in hormonal activity (gonadal and adrenal hormones) and other growth factors, 

Adolescence is the modal period for the emergence of “prodromal” manifestations, or precursors of psychotic symptoms

In this respect, Holden's commitment to a mental hospital or sanatorium is not as strange as it may seem, especially considering the emotional toll that the loss of his beloved brother Allie has had upon him.

Holden's mistrust of adults and his opinion of people as being "phony" is also fairly typical of teenagers. Holden is extremely critical of people, but because he is intelligent and has been sent to a boarding school, he is probably more sensitive to people's words and actions. His remarks about teachers at Elkton Hills—how they act one way in class and another when they meet parents—displays his cynical nature. This cynicism in Holden is not atypical of observant and pensive teens.

Also, there is nothing abnormal about Holden's use of vulgar language and his preoccupation with sex. For instance, he enjoys watching one couple in their hotel room across the way from him, but he says that "you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff." He criticizes Stradlater for his sexual exploits, but he is interested in sex, an interest that is very typical for a male teenager. 

Even though Holden is very intelligent, he seems quite perspicacious for a teenager. For example, he observes,

If somebody knows quite a lot about [the theater and plays and literature], it takes you quite a while to find out whether they’re really stupid or not (Ch.15).

Holden Caulfield is not an average teen, but he is fairly typical for a person of his intelligence and social class who has spent some years at boarding schools. 

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Holden Caulfield is a typical American teenage boy in some respects, but in other respects he cannot be considered typical. For one thing, he comes from a family with a lot of money. He belongs to the upper class of the East Coast and goes to upper-class schools (and gets kicked out of them). He gets his clothes at Brooks Brothers!!! He is typical of American teenage boys in his language. He uses some profanity and a lot of hyperbole. He tries to sound more sophisticated and cynical than he really is. Like a lot of American teenage boys he hates school and is not overly fond of most teachers. He is suffering from teenage growing pains. On the other hand, he is obviously exceptionally intelligent. He probably has an IQ of around 150. He is an earlier example of the super-intelligent young people Salinger would write about a little later, including Seymour Glass, who committed suicide in the story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish." There are quite a few children in the Glass family, and all have genius intelligences, including Franny and Zooey, who had their own stories published in the New Yorker and later in book form in  Franny and Zooey

A high IQ can be an asset as well as a handicap. As a handicap it makes people seem freakish to more "average normal" people. It also tends to make the highly intelligent person despise "average normal" people to a greater or lesser degree as a sort of retaliation. Holden seems to be an introvert who is trying very hard to fit into a world dominated by extraverts. He resembles the narrator of Dostoyevsky's  Notes from Underground,  a man who despises most people and their values and conversations, and yet tries to get accepted by them. Holden's biggest problems, and his biggest differences from the average normal male teenagers, are that he is an introvert with a genius intelligence. Being an introvert makes him feel terribly lonely, and he doesn't realize he is a genius; in fact, he keeps saying he is dumb. He probably thinks he is dumb because he can't concentrate and keeps flunking classes. At least two of his teachers recognize that he is an ugly duckling who might turn into a swan someday.

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