Kate Warlothstar, May 15, 2011 (view all comments by Kate Warlothstar)
Most authors hope to capture their reader’s hearts through specific literary techniques. In The Catcher in The Rye, the author, J.D. Salinger, successfully suggests the idea of alienation as self-protection through Holden Caulfield’s wild adventure and relationships with people. Ultimately, J.D. Salinger elaborates upon the issue of how identity affects humans and their progression, but weakens the different views of the conflict though his lack of perspective and point-of-view.
This novel was published in 1946 of December. During this time period, the war was ending and people were hoping for a better life than what they had possessed with the Great Depression and worldwide poverty. The reason The Catcher in The Rye contains a slight downfall during this time frame was because the point-of-view is seen through an adolescent boy, Holden Caulfield. But as the same time is explicates why the book became so popular. Not only did adults suffer from this time, but children did as well. Having a story told through a sixteen year olds perspective illuminates how children were affected by this era and how alienation as self-protection affected them.
Holden Caulfield explains “I’ll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy” (1). The novel begins on a Saturday subsequent to the end of classes at Pencey Prep School in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. This is Holden’s fourth school he has been expelled from and he dreads every moment of going home. He spends his time doing a variety of things in order to avoid his current problem. Such as: visiting his old teacher, reviews his relationship with his roommate, Stradlater, travels to Manhattan to stay in a hotel, and visits many different type of people along the way. The story ends as Holden tell his sister that he is going to leave forever. As his sister, Phoebe arrives with a suitcase for her to run away with him, and they both begin to cry. Holden buys tickets for them to go to the zoo and as he watches Phoebe, it starts to rain and he realizes the happiness within him and remains cautiously optimistic about what the future has left to hold for him.
The theme displayed in the novel is the use of alienation as self-protection. Holden appears to be excluded from society and mistreated by the world around him. He almost considers himself trapped on “the other side” of existence and frequently tries to locate his way in a humanity he does not feel as if he belongs within. As the novel continues, the reader is able to recognize the isolation Holden encloses is his way of defending himself. As Holden interacts with people, it typically confuses and overwhelms him and fights it with is sense of self-protection. An example of what his isolation brings to him is “I looked out the window for a while, with my coat on and all. I did not have anything else to do” (61). He becomes extremely bored and never directly addresses his emotions so he can figure out his problems. He desperately longs for human contact and love but by shielding barrier he holds up from people makes it impossible for him to have any positive interactions. Alienation is enhanced through Holden’s strengths and limitations. For example he desires to be with Salley Hayes, but his need to be separated from people causes him to insult her and rive him away from having an intimate relationship.
Overall the book is a successful piece of art because of the interesting messages it brings about through Holden Caulfield’s character and past. When someone comes to a realization of how his or her identity is made though so many rational decisions, then the novel is concluded as effective. The coming of age and transitioning from a child to an adult is a difficult situation and the book explains the consequences involved with dwelling on the past and childhood. The book’s point-of-view serves as the books only downfall because it closes the perspective interpreted. All the detail Holden provides obliges as a unique tool in really getting into what the character is feeling which a vital part in understanding what literatures meaning is So much of the classics children have to read today are filtered with such difficult language to read. The Catcher in The Rye will stay in the future because it teaches a great message though fascinating story children will understand and want to learn.
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Taylor Kuehl, May 15, 2011 (view all comments by Taylor Kuehl)
In the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger the statement of running from the inevitable is exemplified. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield, highlights the negative impact of one trying to escape from adulthood and resist change. Though growing up is a part of everyone’s lives, Holden wants to protect himself from what he believes is a society filled with “phony” (3) people. Salinger’s use of the literary techniques of narrative perspective and structure contribute to the study of this literature piece within schools across the world today. Considered a classic novel in American literature, The Catcher in the Rye teaches life lessons about growing up and letting one’s self-protection down in order to find true happiness. Through the protagonists main lack of trust in others and isolation from the social world, Holden Caulfield portrays an adolescent struggling to fit in. His experiences with different schools, classmates and locations impact the decisions he makes throughout his journey to self-discovery.
The novel occurs mainly in two different locations, Pency Prep and New York City. The novel starts out by Caulfield recalling his life as a teenager, specifically at the school Pency Prep. But just as soon as the narrator lets us know he attended Pency Prep, the reader immediately finds out that he is getting kicked out of school. After being kicked out of school, Holden decides to go to New York for a few days, where he can stay in a hotel rather than face his parents and tell them the news of his expulsion. Though the stories that are being told take place over a mere three days, Holden flashbacks to earlier years growing up. The setting changes from Pency Prep to New York City, however, Holden still feels isolated. The geographical setting does nothing more than merely allow Holden to tell stories about a variety of persons and attitudes that he dislikes. “New York’s terrible when somebody laughs on the street very late at night. You can hear it for miles. It makes you feel so lonesome and depressed” (81). The novel reveals that though you can change locations as many times as one desires, he or she may not be able to escape loneliness and isolation.
The organization and narrative perspective that J.D. Saligner uses within the novel contributes to a better understanding of the character Holden Caulfield. The main points of the novel arise from the different experiences that Holden Caulfield has overcome as he’s grown up. Going through the difficulty of losing his brother, Allie, to “leukemia” (38), being kicked out of school and struggling to fit into a social world, is tough. However, the ways in which Holden Caulfield deals with these difficulties is even harder for a reader to understand to some extent. Caulfield’s issue with the word “please” (211) and his stubbornness to listen to people are revealed clearly through first person point of view. Holden Caulfield’s thoughts and emotions are expressed through his experiences growing up. The reader is able to feel what Holden is going through during his complications and learn more about Holden’s character. The reader becomes interested in what Holden Caulfield thinks of the people and situations that arise before him at all times. He is retelling his journey through the use of flashbacks and reflecting on the mental impact of what he has been through. When the reader finds out that Holden Caulfield is telling the story from a mental hospital or sanatorium, he or she is not as surprised due to the actions and thoughts of the young boy that are revealed through his narration.
J.D. Salinger’s literary novel The Catcher in the Rye is a successful piece of literature. It is a novel that can easily be related to, especially by high school students like myself. However, it is a beneficial book for one to read at any age due to the fact that it is a humbling story about one’s coming of age. It can be interpreted in a variety of ways, many relating back to the characteristics of Holden Caulfield. Holden Caulfield is a privileged adolescent who lacks the work ethic to be successful. His careless decisions seem somewhat selfish because he has the opportunity to make better choices. In most cases, it seems as though when Holden is confronted with the choice to take one step forward or two steps backwards, he chooses to move in the backward direction. Personally, I frequently see decisions being made like Holden’s in society today. Sometimes it is so easier to dwell on the negative aspects of life and forget about the opportunity one has to improve on them. Unlike Holden, I try to make the best of every situation and I believe work ethic has the ability to get one far in life. It was interesting to read a novel with a character that seems to contrast myself quite a bit. I sometimes found it hard to imagine a life like Holden’s, where believing the advice of all adults is “phony” (3) and always “feeling so damn depressed and lonesome” (153). However, unlike Holden I have never experienced a death within my immediate family. I try to imagine how hard it would be to lose a family member, yet I understand that I cannot fully grasp the situation having not experienced it. I believe Holden Caulfield is the way he is due to loss. Holden isolates himself from the world because no longer does he want to be faced with losing close companions one day.
The novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger represents the struggle to self-discovery. Holden Caulfield’s experiences as a teenager have shaped the way in which he views the world. Caulfield’s refusal to grow up can be related to a wide variety of reader’s. Salinger teaches the reader that in order to achieve happiness sometimes, one must allow other’s in.
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Noraa Sivad, May 4, 2010 (view all comments by Noraa Sivad)
The Catcher in the Rye written by J.D. Salinger is a story with the primary theme of coming-of-age. Considered to be revolutionary at the time of publishing, the story continues to have an impact on American literature today. Its timeless characters, themes, symbols, and plot create a wonderful story and aide in the continuance of its use in classrooms and book clubs all around the world today.
The story follows a seventeen year old young man named Holden Caulfield after receiving notice of his expulsion from a prep school in Pennsylvania. Holden narrates the story in the first person which gives readers a detailed look at Holden’s experiences and feelings as he wanders around New York for a few days. Readers become aware that Holden is severely conflicted as he visits many people from his past such as Mr. Antolini. He also reconnects with his sister by sneaking into his own house just to talk which highlights a central motif of loneliness. However, the manner in which he acts, such as describing people, often come in direct opposition of each other, unless Holden is describing his sister Phoebe or dead brother Allie, he typically doesn’t have nice things to say.
Salinger uses specific literary elements to aide his story such as themes, symbols, and motifs, along with strong characters. The most evident theme is coming-of-age as Holden is frequently battling to overcome his childish ways that provide him a safe haven of comfort. He acquires these traits from items such as his red hunting hat and his siblings. “It was this red hunting hat, with one of those very, very long peaks”(17). Holden only ever puts on the hat in places of comfort for him like when he arrives back to his room. Both provide an escape for Holden when a difficult adult situation arises that he doesn’t want to deal with. Even questions that Holden asks of other characters take him back to childhood times, for instance when he asks the cab drivers about the ducks, “Well, you know the ducks that swim around in it? In the springtime and all? Do you know where they go in the wintertime, by any chance?”(81). He attempts escaping adult responsibility by mentally distracting himself. As his journey around New York continues several issues such as sexuality arise. The idea of sex is repeated several times in the story as it is seen as an adult act, Holden has a difficult time dealing with the responsibility and taking the steps to perform sexual acts. When presented with a prostitute that he paid for he immediately snaps into child mode in order to protect his innocence and eliminate fear. “The trouble was, I just didn’t want to do it. I felt more depressed than sexy, if you want to know the truth. She was depressing.”(96). This trait of Holden’s to back out of difficult situations is not just true for issues of sex but everything difficult that is presented Holden tries to avoid by becoming a child he can no longer be. Holden is so unique because of his constant indecisiveness and could even be considered hypocritical as he calls the majority of the characters “phonies” but in reality he displays phony characteristics with his two sides of behavior.
Salinger truly creates a classic because simply reading the story requires so much active thinking and analysis. It creates countless ideas about human nature and what people will do in order to be comfortable. It covers a broad range of issues that have stood the test of time and are still relevant today. This is what has allowed the story to remain popular and continue to be read. Specifically the idea of phoniness and people’s over exaggerated and superficial behavior is a trait that will always be evident. Personally I see the types of events and people displayed in The Catcher in the Rye frequently. Also the way Salinger tells the story makes it easier to understand because it is so conversational and done by a narrator that is so easily identifiable with.
Salinger created a great story with The Catcher in the Rye which will remain popular for years to come. The literary elements and strong narrator create a concrete story that is able to adapt to changing times.
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daynapitts, May 3, 2010 (view all comments by daynapitts)
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger is a novel highlighting finding yourself, and the struggle to accept and adapt to change. This novel is appealing to any audience or reader, and a good read in my opinion.
The book, The Catcher in the Rye was published in July, 1951 and has been read by a wide audience for many years. It considered a classic in American literature and renown for the protagonist, Holden Caulfield. It was published on the heels of the economic revival of the 1940s and the author, J.D. Salinger has been said to reflect Holden Caulfield and was isolated and withdrew from much of society after the novel was published.
The Catcher in the Rye is a story of an adolescent journey to discover himself. It is not a complete journey, Holden Caulfield is expelled from his fourth prep school and is struggling to deal with reality and accept the changes that life is bringing. He struggles to make and keep relationships, and views authority figures as phony. He relates to a select number of people, including his brother, D.B, his younger sister, Phoebe and his dead brother, Allie Caulfield. Holden Caulfield is narrating the story, retelling his journey and reflecting on the psychological impact of what he has been through. The Catcher in the Rye begins to investigate Holden’s perception but does not end with the journey complete.
The story begins with Holden telling the reader that he has been institutionalized and the events that unfold in the novel have happened in the past. His attendence in the mental facility is the outcome of these events. The story takes place in New York City where Holden Caulfield wanders before returning home after his removal for Pencey prep school. He reunites with old friends from school and childhood, he also makes it clear how lonely and depressed he feels. “I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I was dead” (48). The story is composed of a few days of Holden losing himself, feeling completely alone and lost and eventually having a nervous breakdown. Holden is critical of almost every person in his life and finds many things that he disapproves of in others. The novel ends with Holden explaining that he has been in the mental hospital trying to get well, and D.B. visits him frequently.
The novel, The Catcher in the Rye can be evaluated in many different ways. Holden Caulfield is the focus of my evaluation, as the story represents himself and all people similar to Holden. Holden Caulfield is a privleged teenager who has been given opportunities but lacks a true desire or initiative to be committed or try. He seems apathetic to me, and somewhat selfish because he does not do a lot to better his situation but dwells on it more than taking the steps to improve his unhappiness. Mr. Antolini tells Holden, “‘I think that one of these days,’ he said, ‘you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there. But immediately. You can’t afford to lose a minute. Not you’” (188). I personally find it hard to relate to Holden because I feel he possesses talent but does not use it. I see so many young people around me, who are so incredibly gifted and will not stop and do not complain but work hard to get what they want. I believe whether or not you are the best at something you should give your all no matter what. Holden lacks that passion, something I often feel I have too much of, and this is a frustrating reality to watch unfold for Holden.
I also feel that Holden is faced with a difficult obstacle to overcome. He lost his younger brother and close friend to Leukemia and has a really hard time dealing with this loss. I feel this causes a lot of his issues with adults and authority even though the readers do not know the entire story. I have never had a loss that immense in my life, and I cannot imagine losing a family member. The pain he has endured has made it hard for him to accept change and isolated him from other people. While I still feel that he Holden Caulfield is apathetic and passive, I understand where these behaviors may stem from.
The Catcher in the Rye was a difficult read for me at first. I did not like it all that much in the beginning, and it took me some thinking after completeing the book to understand what I liked and disliked about the novel. While I do not see it has my favorite book, I think it is a very good read, especially for people my age. I feel this novel is a realistic representation of what some teenagers and young adults go through in the stuggle to find themselves. It shows the impact that family has as a young person and how that carries with someone all throughout life. Holden Caulfield represents the imperfect standard that young adults often feel pressured to break. The book does not end happily, but it ends with something real, while that may not be perfect, it is the true outcome of Holden’s experience and it is a starting point of him achieving a normal life.
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Little Brown and Company -
by Frank Kermode, Review from Spectator, 05/30/1958,
"Repetitive, indecent, often very funny, it is wonderfully sustained by the author, who achieves all those ancient effects to be got from a hero who is in some ways inferior, and in some ways superior, to the reader....Why, then, with all this to admire, do I find something phoney in the book itself?....[T]he adult view of adolescence, insinuated by skillful faking, is agreeable to predictable public taste....[It] is what the consumer needs....The boy's attitudes to religion, authority, art, sex and so on are what smart people would like other people to have, but cannot have themselves, because of their superior understanding."
Holden, knowing he is to be expelled from school, decides to leave early. He spends three days in New York City and tells the story of what he did and suffered there.
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