In The Catcher in Rye, Holden views the world as an evil and corrupt place where there is no peace of mind, or innocence. His perception of the world does not change as the novel develops however, towards the end Holden gradually comes to realize that he is powerless to change it. Ironically I think he does mature as the novel progresses. Although we are only told of a short period of Holdens life in the book, Holden is very successful in telling his point of view of the world, a crazy, and corrupt. After Holden leaves Pencey Prep and checks into the Edmont Hotel, is where I see most of his turmoil starts to begin.
When he spends the evening in the Hotel he finds himself surrounded by morons and perverts. There were screwballs all over the place. He said. His situation only deteriorates from there on. The more he looks around at the world, the more depressing it seems.
(He is generous to remind us that about every 5 sentences). On his date with Sally, he asks her if she ever just gets fed up, and wanted to know if everything would just get worse if you didnt do anything about it. I saw that Holden was in a state of turmoil and confusion in that scene. He wants to put his past behind him and start a new life. I feel that this is a sign of maturity because he is at a state which he has had experience with everyday life, and wants to get far away from it.
In the novel I also never saw Holden as immature, I always saw him as a protector of the innocent. When Holden sneaks into his house and talks to Phoebe I feel that he is explaining what happened on his date with Sally, about his plans and all, but in a very symbolic and picturesque manner. He essentially tells Phoebe that he wants to keep children from growing up. It takes most of the book before Holden begins to realize that he is helpless to stop he corruption.
Finally, he realizes that not only is he helpless to stop it but, there is nowhere he can go to hide from it. When Holden is delivering the letter to his sister he encounters a f*** you written on the wall. Holden rubs it in with his hand so as to protect the innocent children from reading it. Later on he finds another f*** you on a wall, but this one was scratched in.
He discovers he cant deface this one. I felt that this was the beginning of Holdens realization that his dreams are infeasible. Ironically enough, it is one of the innocent children that he is trying to protect who helps him come to terms with this realization. It is Phoebe who challenges his plan to head out west. As he is telling her that she cannot run away, he discovers that he too cannot run away. You cant ever find a place that is nice and peaceful, because there isnt any.
The final step in Holdens maturity comes near the end of the book when he is watching Phoebe on the carousel. All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid shed fall off the goddamn horse, but I didnt say or do anything. The thing is with kids is if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off they fall off, but its bad if you say anything to them.
Holden at this point no longer regards himself as a child, taking into consideration the way her presents everyone else as kids and that he ultimately realizes that he cannot preserve the innocence of a child. Shortly after this statement Holden has a nervous breakdown. He knows with a sickening certainty that he is powerless to stop both evil and maturation. As a matter of fact it is bad to do so.Bibliography: