What are three ways Holden changes as a character?  (Use examples).

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hi, stb:

This is a tough question, because in The Catcher in the Rye you could make the case that Holden doesn't change much at all.  Really, he's a critic of society (but not of himself) throughout the entire novel.  In the end, he regrets telling us his story at all, which shows that he is very conservative and in denial of change and maturity.  In short, he's a reluctant hero not ready to cross the threshold into the adult, illegitimate world.

If I had to choose only three (3) ways in which he changes, it would be:

1)  He doesn't commit suicide, like James Castle.  Because of Antolini's advice ("The mark of a mature man is that he lives for [a noble cause]"), Holden refuses to romanticize his own death.  He refuses to martyr himself for the phony culture.

2)  Holden refuses to enter that adult world of sex.  He hires the prostitute Sonny only to talk to her.  In short, he wants to protect his and her innocence.  By losing his virginity, he might have been swallowed up and drowned in the adult world completely.

3)  Holden chooses to live for Phoebe, his sister, instead of kill himself for Allie, his brother who died of leukemia.  Holden lives with survivor's guilt, and he can't turn to adults for help.  So, he looks to become a surrogate parent to his little sister, a type of therapy and a noble cause.

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