Admitting to the Definition of a Typical Teenager.
Salinger creates Holden Caulfield to be an exaggerated version of the typical teenager, torn between childhood and its innocence and adulthood and its "phoniness". Holden is seventeen years old and slightly matures from childhood to adulthood throughout the story. He adequately portrays the way many teenagers feel during adolescence and his actions prove his fear of becoming an adult. .
The most prevalent characteristic about Holden is his desire to be independent. All teenagers yearn to be independent from their parents and free from responsibility. Holden wants to be even more independent than the typical teenager because he has always had many restrictions placed upon him living in the dorms of all of prestigious schools, such as Pencey. Throughout the book Holden expresses his independence by deciding to do random things and make his own decisions. On the night he got into a fight with Stradlater "all of a sudden" he "decided to get the hell out of Pencey - right that same night and all" and "take a room in a hotel in New York" (51). Teenagers of every generation seem to want independence by exploring and getting away and this is what Holden does. He does it immediately without planning it and this emphasizes his need to be independent. Holden controls his activities and enjoys being independent. His independence is so exaggerated that at times it leads to loneliness. Because of the loneliness he is experiencing, Holden resorts to being entertained by other people. Once he is with other people, he remembers his desire for independence and quickly gets irritated by their company. For example, Holden continuously mentions Sally Hayes. He tries to contact her and jumps at an opportunity to hang out with her. After a while of being with her, he begins to realize that she is "a royal pain in the ass", and that he would rather be by himself.