Universal Themes: Change, Coming of Age, and Acceptance
Although the reasons why are not disclosed, Holden detests the idea of interacting with others or growing up. Before the story occurs, he comes to the conclusion that almost everyone in the world is a “phony”, and he refuses to change his mind about that. Multiple characters point this out throughout the story, like Sally, Mr. Antolini and Phoebe, meaning that most people are completely content with society (at least, at that time). Holden has already made his own assumptions about life, and because he refuses to attempt to see any other good around him, he is unable to change until someone actually tells him. After speaking to Mr. Antolini, it is made clear that Holden will not be happy if he keeps that mindset; he will never be able to make any kind of progress. If he wants to have a truly successful life, he needs to lose his childish stubbornness and accept society as it is, or actively try to change it. There are definitely faults in adulthood and society itself, but one cannot just turn his back on the world because of that; if that occurs, then he both hinders his own future and the future of all those around him.
This relates to the piece because it shows both exactly how Holden depicts the world and what it actually is not. He sees everyone as mannequins who both have no intellect and always conform with whatever is popular at the time. People, however, are much more than that; they all have their own problems, experiences, and minds, no matter how bad or terrible they may seem. They’re much more than the human-shaped targets on this piece.