The Catcher in the Rye
is a coming-of-age novel with a twist. Holden does not follow the usual pattern. He begins in turmoil, struggles in turmoil, has a moment of epiphany (clarity of insight) watching Phoebe at the carrousel, but eventually suffers physical and emotional collapse.
change toward the end of the book. His acceptance of Phoebe's need to "grab for the gold ring" indicates that he sees her as a maturing individual who must be allowed to live her own life and take her own chances, even though she may fail or fall. Children must do this, and adults must let them. For better or worse, Holden is beginning to grow up; but he is far from any kind of triumph. He will go home and soon collapse, resulting in his stay at the sanitarium in California. We cannot know how he will be in the future. Salinger does not spoon-feed the reader a "happy" ending. In that way, the novel is more realistic, more lifelike and authentic than some representatives of the genre.