Is Holden Caulfield a Typical Teenager?

In the novel, Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield is a 16 year old boy from New York City. He recently got the ax from his school, Pencey Prep, for failing four classes. He ends up roaming around the streets of New York City for three days, after leaving school early for Winter Break. Through Holden’s adventures, he becomes addicted to smoking, drinking and going out to night clubs. This conclusion leads me to think that he has the common issues that teens deal with daily.

Although Holden secludes himself from the rest of the world, he is very much like a typical teenager when it comes to having problems in school. Holden reveals a strong hate for school. In chapter one, he states that “he didn’t know anyone at Pencey that was splendid and clear-thinking and all. Maybe two guys. If that many. ” (pg. 6) Later, Holden gets kicked out from his school, Pencey Prep “on account of flunking four subjects and not applying” himself and all. (pg. 6) Holden is well known because teens can relate to him in so many things including issues in school.

It seems that whenever Holden would get depressed he would turn to abusing alcohol, which is common among teens. In chapter 10, Holden was in a night club and he tried to order a scotch and soda, when the waiter asked for some verification of his age. (pg. 90-91) It seems that Salinger made this the only time alcohol wasn’t readily available in the novel. In chapter 12, Holden was at another night club, Ernie’s, when he tried again to order a scotch and soda, and was able to do so easily.

He states that even if you were six years old you could get liquor at Ernie’s; nobody cared how old you were. (pg. 111) Again in chapter 20, Holden gets drunk at another night club. (pg. 194) The Catcher in the Rye demonstrates many life lessons, such as not abusing alcohol. In the novel, Holden Caulfield is like a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit anywhere in the puzzle, meaning he doesn’t fit in with the world. He has a really rough time fitting in at school because he thinks they are all phonies.

In Chapter 1, Holden accidentally leaves “all the foils and equipment and stuff on the subway” so the whole team ostracizes him the whole way back on the train. (p. 6). In Chapter 6, Holden gets in a fist fight with his roommate Stradlater, because Holden continuously calls Stradlater a moron because Stradlater was criticizing what Holden wrote about for Stradlater’s paper that he asked Holden to write. (p. 54). Holden had a rough time fitting in both at school and in the world in general.

The Catcher in the Rye illustrates a young boy struggling to try to fit in with everyone else and deal with life’s problems at the same time. From failing out of school to going to night clubs and getting drunk, this novel is told right from a teenager’s point of view. Salinger represents Holden as a character in his novel that holds many characteristic of a typical teenager, including alcohol abuse. To this day, Holden is well-known worldwide, by many people. He is known as the character that best describes teenagers and life problems.

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