Immature Idealist

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Immature Idealist Holden Caulfield's perception of an ideal society is based on strong moral values, however his own immaturity is his primary obstacle. He wishes to change the entire society around him but can not logically articulate what he so dislikes. He complains about taxicabs and elevators, but then he will change the subject and talk about something so intellectual as protecting the innocence of children. This is a value Holden takes very seriously. He is afraid that society is on a vicious cycle trying to corrupt America's youth.

Holden fells like his ideals are impossible goals because it seems he has a problem with all authority figures, even if it is only a hidden hostility. Holden has much more respect for children than adults because their actions are genuine and they aren't attempting to prove anything. Such as the 6 year old little boy humming the catcher in the rye song.

But he despises Ernie's piano playing, and Actors who compromise their talents to please an audience. Holden's strong resistance to the adult world is fueled by other negative encounters he has with authority as well. Beginning with the teachers and administrations of the many prep schools Holden attends. Schools represent a fake cruel world designed by corrupt adults that run them. Holden points out flaws in others, but his own problems don't phase him at all. He is irresponsible and doesn't apply himself because he thinks by not applying himself this will delaying the maturing process. He is always pointing out how stupid his roommates are, however he is the one expelled for poor academics. Holden hates the exclusivity and prejudice against those who aren't popular or attractive. Holden struggles hard against the social class he was born into.

Holden's moral standpoint on the issue of childhood innocence compared to adult corruption is one he puts a lot of faith in. The protection of childhood innocence is his primary virtue throughout the novel. This is seen in his dream of being a "catcher in the rye" and his admiration for purity which is depicted through people that he admires the most. All representing innocence are Jane, Phoebe, Allie, and the 6 year old singing. At the end of the book however Holden has an epiphany and realizes children must be exposed to the adult world. They must be allowed to make their own decisions even if there are risks. "Grabbing for the gold ring". He can't save all the children from "falling" Immature: won't grow up because he fears the corrupt adult society, confused by his immature behavior and much older appearance.

Stubborn: complains about little things like cabs, phonies, elevators Depressed: he is alone at a young age feels he can't relate to anyone Angry: rejects society, upset with the desensitizing of the youth and all the facades people feel they need to hide behind because they can't be themselves Anxious: impatient with people indecisive, failure to follow through with ideas Perceptive: is very aware of what goes on around him phonies, ducks Resentful: wish he wasn't born into this social class prejudice of people in is own situation. His family and culture expect him to excel at a prestigious school and then move on to a prestigious Ivy League college.

Polite: he tries to get along with people even if it involves dishonesty, sexually curious but has strong moral values He resists growing up but is attracted to the advantages of adulthood like independence, cigarettes, alcohol, and sexual relationships. But he fells growing up will compromise his values of innocence, integrity, and authenticity. He is half way to adulthood but feels if he stays at this plateau he cannot be destroyed.

He wants time to freeze for him so he can enjoy life's beautiful moments. He can not avoid reality however and he must learn to accept this change Epiphany is when he sees Phoebe as a maturing individual who must be allowed to live her own life and make her own decisions. Weather Holden realizes it or not by letting go of his dream and realizing he can't protect all children from becoming adults