“Catcher in the Rye”: Not a Bildungsroman Essay

Bildungsroman: a coming-of-age novel. Many critics and readers alike have argued that JD Salingers Catcher in the Rye is an outstanding example of a bildungsroman. The novel is a narrative by Holden Caulfield, a troubled and mentally unstable sixteen year-old that has actually just been expelled from his 4th preparation school. Holden, who is undergoing treatment in a psychological institution, recounts the story of his mental breakdown and the occasions leading up to it. He concludes the story with quick mean his healing.

Though one assumes that Holden is receiving and reacting to treatment, his mindset and tone are unchanged throughout the novel.

If the lead character has not developed since story began, how can Catcher in the Rye be thought about a bildungsroman?The unique opens with Holden carelessly tossing around the fact that he has actually been expelled from Pencey Preparation (page 2). Though Holden has previously been kicked out of three other distinguished schools, he is entirely apathetic about the circumstance. He has no drive; no issue or outlook for his future whatsoever.

Even after everything that Holden experiences throughout Catcher in the Rye, his mindset is unchanged at the conclusion: and what school Im expected to go to next fall, after I get out of here, however I don’t feel like it. I really dont. That stuff doesn’t interest me too much right now (page 213). That declaration unequivocally proves that Holden has not matured at all.

Contemptuous, bitter, judgmental: take your pick. Each word describes Holden to a tee; not simply in the beginning, but throughout the whole narration. Holden is continuously evaluating everyone he comes into contact with. He speaks about Mr. Spencer (page 10), a teacher at Pencey Prep, in the same buying from tone that he describes a specific psychoanalyst with (page 213). Though the occasions take place a number of months apart, Holdens attitude corresponds. He continues to have a negative, buying from, and overall downhearted outlook on people and life in general.

If Holden is simply as immature and mentally undeveloped at the end of the unique as he was at the start, how can one argue that he has matured? Having a psychological breakdown and needing treatment for said breakdown might extremely well be thought about a rite of passage. However, to be thought about a coming of age story, Holden would need to be altered for the better because of his initiation rite. One can clearly distinguish his consistency in tone, attitude, and maturity level (or lack thereof) that Holden has not changed in the least. Though lots of critics and readers alike have claimed Catcher in the Rye to be an outstanding bildungsroman, there is certainly a strong argument to be made against this claim.

“Catcher in the Rye” By JD Salinger (1951 )Pamela Hunt Steinle (2000 ). In Cold Fear: The Catcher in the Rye Censorship Controversies and Postwar American Character. Ohio State University Press.

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