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Perfection Is Not An Option, Catcher In The Rye Essay

1633 words - 7 pages

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Perfection is not an Option "..he is capable of being anything except for who he truly aims to be - perfect."
14 April 2014

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Perfection is not an Option
Perfect can be define as being entirely without fault or defect and satisfying all requirements.
Everyone has their own perception of what perfect means. Perfect is what all human beings aspire to
become. Although people aim to be flawless, the fact of the matter is that not a single individual is or
will ever be capable of being perfect. In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, the protagonist, Holden
Caulfield, frequently acts like some sort of god or saint, criticizing anyone that meets the eye or comes
to mind. ...view middle of the document...

He elaborates on his choice, insisting that lawyers only "make a lot of dough and play golf and
play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot" (Salinger 172). In addition to the
theme of growing up, Holden is unable to accept the fact that he is becoming an adult because he is
capable of seeing into the world of children and comprehending their perspectives. Being seventeen, he

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acknowledges the mature world as an impure, fouled place which has the opportunity to corrupt kids
and ruin their seemingly perfect perceptions of things. This is how he gets the idea of becoming "the
catcher in the rye" (Salinger 173); he wants to protect all children from having to experience the world
of adults. He does not want them to be exposed to any elements that may take away from the way they
see things- he tries to keep their innocence intact. Although it is respectable for him to be very
passionate about a subject, his disregard to grow towards or arrive at full stature only demonstrates just
how inattentive he is to his own issues, providing clear evidence that he is nowhere near as flawless as
he wants to be.
Throughout the entire novel, Holden often criticizes and judges those who he encounters. He is
very critical towards everyone, excluding children. He criticizes his friends at Pencey for all of their
faults; he even criticizes his older brother, D.B., for "being out in Hollywood, being a prostitute"
(Salinger 2). It seems as if many of the things he criticizes or complains about he ends up doing
himself, making him full of hypocrisy. This shows that Holden is not as different from those who he is
judging as he believes himself to be. For one thing, he is absolutely livid when he notices the foul
language written on the wall of Phoebe's school. This upsets Holden because he is concerned about the
innocence of the school children, and he knows that there is a possibility that they may have already
been expose to the cruel adult world. Despite his self-driven need to preserve the innocence of children,
he contradicts himself when he talks to Phoebe, swearing in front of her, telling her a story of an old
man wanting to go to his dormitory washroom because he "carved his goddamn stupid sad old initials
in one of the can door about ninety years ago" (Salinger 168). He likes to pass judgement on others but
once the tables have turned and he is the one at fault, he is entirely blind and absolutely unaware of the
matter. Another factor that showcases his hypocrisy is how he judges those who are veraciously
promiscuous. When he stays at a hotel, he claims that he "saw a man and a woman squirting water out

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of their mouths at each other" (Salinger 62) and how "the hotel was lousy with perverts" (Salinger 62).
He complains about other peoples' sexual desires, when in truth he spends the majority of the novel
contemplating the loss of his virginity. He even goes on to admit "in my mind, I'm probably the biggest

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