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Essay on Understanding the Inevitable in The Catcher in the Rye

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Understanding the Inevitable in The Catcher in the Rye


If something is inevitable, it will occur at some point in time. It is an event that will occur no matter what is done to stop it from happening. In the book The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield tries to stop himself from maturing into an adult. The book details the events that happen to show Holden that he cannot overcome maturity because maturity is inevitable.

Holden Caulfield has failed out of three other prep schools before his parents enroll him at Prencey. The first chapter takes place during the last days of Holden’s first term at Prencey. He has failed four of his five classes, and because of this, he has been asked to not return for the next term. The headmaster has already verbally informed Holden, and is writing a letter to his parents to inform them. Since there is nothing left for Holden at Prencey, he decides to leave the school before the official end of the term. He goes to New York to relax until his parents expect him home for the mid term break. Holden’s experiences during this long weekend lead him to some sort of mental hospitalization. At the end of the novel, Holden is in the hospital recovering and is somewhat optimistic about attending a new school.

The inevitable cannot be avoided. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is trying to avoid maturity. He does not want to leave the familiarity of school for the cold world of adults. He purposely does not study so he will not pass his classes and graduate. After he fails out of Pencey, Holden knows that his parents will not give him another chance to fail at another school. They will leave him on the doorstep of maturity. In an effort to stop this from happening, Holden leaves Pencey before hi...


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...tyle of writing. Salinger mixes the actual account of an event with Holden’s personal thoughts about that particular event. Salinger uses this style to great effect when he shows what Holden thinks about what a character just said. “’I’d love to. Grand.’ Grand. If there’s one word I hate, it’s grand” (Salinger 106). This unique style of writing is the reason The Catcher in the Rye should be included in a list of works of high literary merit.

In the book, Salinger shows us that no matter how much we try to avoid the inevitable, it will happen no matter what we do to delay it from occurring. Holden goes through many events before he finally understands this simple fact. There is only one thing that can be done about an inevitable event, and that is to prepare for it.

Works Cited

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company 1951.


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