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Holden Caulfield And The History Museum

While he is on his way to the museum, he recollects how every time you go there, “everything always stayed right where it 21): the museum never hanged. Most people would be annoyed by this and would not return if there was nothing new to see. But not Holden Caulfield; he likes it for that very reason: it does not change. But the oddest thing that happens is that even though he had walked all the way through the cold damp park, he decides that he does not want to go in at all, exclaiming that he “wouldn’t have gone inside for a million bucks. (122) This seems particularly odd after he exclaimed: “l get very happy when I think about” (119-120) the museum. This is one of the only childhood memories he shares with us, and he iscusses it for about three pages in the book which means he is obviously fond of it, but he now wants nothing to do with it. Why is Holden so fond of the museum? It is probably because the museUm’s never changing exhibits represent Holden’s unwillingness to enter into the stages of adulthood. The Museum of Natural History has been the same since before Holden was a little kid.

He idolizes the Natural History Museum for this reason, he wants to be like it and never have to grow up and start his life as an adult. One of his fondest childhood memories is the eternal museum that is always the same, and he is ashamed that unlike the museum he is hanging, wishing that “Things should stay the way they are” (122). He has become more mature physically and mentally, but the museum is still the same. Holden speaks of how every time you go into the Museum you would be slightly different, “The only thing that would be different would be you. (121), but the museum has not changed, in fact “you could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just catching that fish. ” He is explaining that unlike the museum, people are always different each time they go to there, but he is not relating it to himself and never escribes how he is different because he wants to believe he has not changed. He is afraid of growing up, and hopes that he is like the Natural History Museum and has stayed the same. The Museum is literally a snapshot of time, in this case it is a snapshot of Indians and Eskimos, but it is also a snapshot in another way.

For Holden, it reminds him of a time in his life when things were simple, school was easy, he didn’t have to worry about girls, and he was happy with where he was in life. But things have sped past him and he has now lost it. He looks at the museum and remembers his emories there and who he was and how much he enjoyed his childhood, and he is terribly sad that it is over. He has grown up, and is no longer the same little kid at the museum. He is now a young adult that has to deal with very real challenges and struggles. And he wants nothing to do with it, but he knows he cannot change who he is.

So when he looks at the museum and the happy memories he has there as a child, he cannot stand to think that he is not that child anymore. So even though he walked all the way through the park, he decides he doesn’t want to go in. He pushes the idea to the side and says “it just didn’t appeal to me. Even though he so clearly likes the museum, he does not want to go in and taint the happy childhood memory, or to prove to himself that he is different, and that he has changed, and is no longer that little kid inside the museum.

The museum represents permanence. In this case it is the permanence of Holden’s childhood. Unfortunately for Holden, in the past few days, he has proven himself anything but a child. In the days gone by, Holden has: been drinking, gotten himself into a fight with his friend, hired taxi cabs, gotten himself kicked out of his fourth school, he has “made himself Cal damn date ith Sally,” (122) and he even hired a prostitute and then got robbed and “smacked” (103) by the pimp.

All of these are clearly not something a kid would be doing. As Holden realizes the gravity of all his very adult decisions and actions, he realizes that deep inside he is an adult or at least almost an adult. And with this thought he cannot bear to go into the museum which represents his childhood. He wants to leave the memory of his childhood alone, and not damage his idea of the place. Only if Holden does not go into the museum though will he be able to maintain the memory Of this sacred location where everything stays the same.

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