Prove that Holden is a normal average teenager.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Holden Caulfield has some of the characteristics of "a normal average teenager," although in some respects he is quite different from normal average teenage boys. He is very normal in the way he expresses himself. He uses some profanity in order to show he is tough and rebellious. He displays a dislike of authority figures. He distrusts anyone over the age of thirty. He wants very much to be free and independent, but he lacks the necessary self-confidence to go off on his own, as he repeatedly thinks of doing. Even his escapade in Manhattan is an attempt to go off  on his own, but he learns that he is not mature enough to handle independence. This is one of the reasons he sneaks back into his family apartment much earlier than he had originally planned to do. Another reason is that he has already run out of money and he has to borrow eight dollars and a little change from his sister Phoebe. He has quickly learned that it is a cold, cruel world out there. Most people don't care anything about him, while others such as Sunny and Maurice are actually dangerous. Like most teenagers, Holden wants to be independent, but he seems totally lost in New York. He keeps trying to think of people he can call on the telephone, but some are total strangers while others are people he doesn't really like. He is so lonely and so desperate for company that he invites a cab driver to have a drink with him and tries to start relationships with other indifferent strangers. In one pathetic scene he actually goes into Central Park at night in the freezing cold in order to try to find the ducks he has been so worried about. He can't even find ducks for company. Like many American teenageres, Holden is in a limbo between childhood and adulthood. He really doesn't have any sense of direction in life, and the plot of Salinger's story reflects the condition of the hero. The plot is very episodic and lacking in continuity (i.e., one event following naturally from another and leading to a logical conclusion).

Holden differs from average teenagers in that he comes from a wealthy family and is, as Maurice the bellhop tells him, "a high-class kid." He buys his clothes at Brooks Brothers and goes to elite private schools. Holden is also exceptionally intelligent--although he does not yet realize it. He has a genius IQ, like the characters Salinger will later write about who are all members of the Glass family--notably Seymour, Franny, and Zooey. A couple of members of the Glass famly appear in Salinger's  Nine Stories, and  Franny and Zooey  concerns these two members with many references to Seymour, the oldest of the siblings.


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