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The Naivety of Holden Caulfield and America Exposed in The Catcher in the Rye

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With every articulated drop of knowledge and accentuated measure of experience, comes a vast crescendo of soundness and wisdom. Acquiring these necessities of life may take a person, or a nation, decades of determination and desire for change to develop. If not given enough time, however, the individual or nation might descend and linger in a stage of naivety—where knowledge is too scarce to truly understand and evaluate all the experiences they have gone through in the world. Our nation is, and has always been, a nation succumbing to the weakness of our naivety due to the critical lack of the incandescent wisdom and maturity it needed in order for peace to prevail. In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the young character named Holden Caulfield displayed an image of naivety that shadowed the immature lifestyles of 1950’s America and served as a critique towards this nation for the lack of wisdom reflected in the course of our actions.
As America slowly began molding into the creases of different values and cultures, so did its literature. One trait that had always been securing itself within the lines of these literary texts was the protagonists’ naivety. Theses characters typically established an intention to do good things, but eventually fail due to tumbling upon tempting obstacles and falling into the trance of distractions. An example of this situation occurred long ago during the 16th and 17th century. A cult of English Protestants known as Puritans aimed to “purify” the Church of England by excreting all evidence of its descent in the Roman Catholic Church. The Puritans enforced strict religious practices upon its believers and regarded all pleasure and luxury as wicked or sacrilegious. Although their “holy” cond...


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...se of reality and unwillingness to see the true, unmasked world showed a dramatic trait of being young, inexperienced, intelligent, and unwise.
Although America had been established for countless decades, her thoughts and decisions would always remain naïve because her actions would unquestionably continue to be conquered by our upcoming generations. Never would she grow old and be able to experience the rewards of wisdom because her citizens would continue to produce newer products of society. Every new generation would eventually experience the faults and misconceptions of life, comparable to those of Holden Caulfield’s. As soon as a generation acquires some legit knowledge and wisdom, another would come and take their place. America, along with the rest of the world, would proceed to be a part of an infinite cycle of naivety for as long as human beings exist.


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