The Catcher In The Rye By J. D. Salinger: Journey Into Adulthood
The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger is a classic novel about a young man named Holden Caulfield and his journey into the adult world. Holden has been to many schools and kicked out many times. Holden tells the story of his expulsion and the adventures following it. He runs into a variety of characters on his journey Holden narrates his own story in vivid detail, along with an interesting choice in vocabulary. This novel has remained relevant because of the relatability of the storyline. Analyzing the plot and style of Salinger shows the theme that growing up can be intimidating but everyone has to do it. Salinger uses the use of the first-person point of view along with dependent clauses to give the book a more conversational feeling. The Catcher in the Rye is a book about growing up, facing the real world, and the obstacles that come along with it.
The book The Catcher In The Rye By J. D. Salinger begins with Holden Caulfield, the main character and narrator, introducing himself and telling his story about the past Christmas. Caulfield had just been kicked out of Pencey Prep School for failing four classes and this was not the first school Caulfield had been booted from. Holden was sixteen years old at the time but was known for acting like a twelve-year-old; he condemned the idea of growing up. Caulfield uses words like “phony’ as a defense mechanism and often. Holden liked his brother’s books and books that are funny once in a while; ones that make you feel you could be best friends with the author. Holden headed to New York for an early Christmas break without his parents knowing. While in New York Caulfield experiences some odd things and struggles with the idea of growing up. Even while talking about New York Holden couldn’t stop talking about Jane. He asked everyone he came across where the ducks went when the pond froze over but no one seemed to have the answer. He had a run-in with a prostitute but opts out of going through with his “purchase” and just has a talk.
Caulfield’s journey involved him asking a lot of questions, especially about sex. He is pretty clueless about that kind of stuff. Holden sneaks into his family’s apartment, not wanting to face his parents. His parents are at a party, but he sees His sister Phoebe. It upsets her when she finds out he has been kicked out; he tells her he wants to be “the catcher in the rye” because of a song he thought said “if a body catches a body coming through the rye,” but she corrects him and tells him it’s a poem. All Holden wants to do is to be the catcher in the rye. Holden visits Mr. Anatoli, who gives him some advice. Not only did Mr. Anatoli hand him a quote “The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one” (Salinger 244). He also gives him a speech about how educated men can change the world, trying to get Holden to reconsider his stance on school (Salinger 246). Holden just finds this annoying. He leaves after a weird encounter with Mr. Anatoly petting his head. He gets anxious and decides to write a note to leave for his sister at school about running away. Phoebe meets him and wants to tag along but he refuses. She did not want to go back to school, so he took her to the zoo. The book ends with Holden telling us he will not tell us how he got home or how he got sick but all he knows is that he misses the people he told us about.
The point of view of The Catcher In The Rye is the first person. The point of view stays the same throughout the book. Holden tells the reader straight forward that he is a liar.” I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. If I’m on the way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera”(Salinger 16). The narrator is a liar could make him unreliable. It is not known if everything he tells the reader is truthful or not. The point of view is significant because Holden is telling his story and how he interprets it. It shows how he feels about every situation and his thought processes.
The tone of this story is disheartening yet humorous at the same time. Words like “depressing” and the introduction of his sickness make it more serious. Holden also uses words like “phony” and “kidding” all while having a very funny personality which makes this a more humorous book for the most part. Holden really likes kidding with people, but only certain people can be kids with. Caulfield’s immature personality also influenced the humorous tone.” I have a lousy vocabulary and partly because I act quite young for my age sometimes” (Salinger 22). Despite the effort to use humor as a coping mechanism, the reader can still see that Holden is not ready for growing up and everything that comes with it and that sometimes adulthood can be “depressing.”
This novel’s syntax is quite simple and is written like a teen or a child. The repetition of the word “and “ in Holden’s sentences shows him immaturity. “Lawyers are all right, I guess… all you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink martinis and look like a hot-shot.” (Salinger 46). The author uses a lot of simple sentences because it is supposed to be from Holden’s view, like a conversation. Salinger also uses declarative sentences in this novel quite a bit, because he is telling us what happened. Caulfield leaves his sentences hanging often with words like “anything” or “and all.” In Holden’s conversation with Mr. Antolini, Salinger uses a lot of dependent clauses to give the conversation a casual tone.
Diction is a very important part of this novel. In The Catcher In The Rye, the diction is often very pessimistic. Holden uses a lot of swear words in his dialogue; this gives a very childlike and immature tone to him. The word “Phony” is Holden’s way of addressing adult things or things he does not like. Salinger uses slang to get the full effect of Holden Caulfield’s personality. Words such as “flits” are used to describe homosexuals and “dough” instead of “money.” Holden’s use of words also reflects the time period and where he’s from. For example “buzz” is used instead of saying he is going to call someone. In addition, “swanky” is used to describe something very high-class.
Salinger used figurative language in his novel to not only describe the events better but to help readers visual them as well. Salinger uses a simile in the sentence ‘Mr. Antolini lit another cigarette. He smoked like a fiend” (Salinger 186). The book itself is one large flashback of what happened last Christmas. He also uses irony quite often like Holden’s contempt for religion but then states that he admires Jesus (Salinger 131). When talking about Allie’s grave, Holden says “It’s not too bad when the sun’s out, but the sun only comes out when it feels like coming out,”(Salinger 156). This is personification because he is giving the sun some human-like feelings. Another example of a simile is “Living with him was like living in a museum“, meaning it was very vast and open.
The theme of this novel is growing up can be intimidating but everyone has to do it. Throughout this book Holden’s number one enemy is adulthood. Caulfield resents anything even remotely grown-up or mature. He is a virgin and can not even open himself up to have sex with a prostitute. Caulfield keeps somewhat of innocence throughout the book. Holden loves kids because he thinks they are genuine and kind but he thinks adults are phonies and resents them. He is not very open to the idea of growing up at all. Soon later he realizes that he cannot control it, everyone has to grow up one day. He must learn that growing up can be a good thing.
The Catcher In The Rye is the story of a boy named Holden Caulfield’s journey into adulthood. The theme of “growing up can be intimidating but everyone has to do it” is developed throughout the novel through Holden rejecting the idea of growing up. The storyline appeals to a wide range of readers, and because of this the novel has stayed relevant and stood the test of time. Salinger’s style was a large part of what made this novel what it is. The Catcher in the Rye is a book about growing up, facing the real world, and the obstacles that come along with it.
In 1951, Jerome David Salinger published a novel ‘ The Catcher in the Rye’, which has become a desktop book of more than one generation of Americans and not only Americans: according to the number of translations to other languages ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ occupies one of the first places in the post-war U.S. literature. Published in 1960 in Russia, Salinger’s novel strongly influenced the so-called youth prose, which was made famous by the magazine ‘Youth’. Even in a...
Introduction ‘Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody’ Holden Caulfield was a misunderstood teenager looking to fit in. In the Catcher in the Rye Holden faces self conflicts with his insecurities and his mental health. Holden faces a change at the end of the book, he’s been through rough things with friends but he still misses them and the experience. He has terrible friends, Stradlater, fought him. Ackley, brought his insecurities and Maurice. Through this...
One of the most prolific genres of literature is the coming of age story. A coming of age story consists of a main character growing from childhood to adulthood through the course of the story. During this process, the protagonist must overcome many common challenges, both internal and external. The challenges they encounter consist of gaining a deeper and more mature understanding of concepts such as family, education, childhood, friendship, love, adulthood, career, and/or marriage. When most people think of...
Everyone experiences growing up in a different way. Some people have a fear of it and some people look forward to it. In The Catcher in the Rye Holden, a teenage boy who just got expelled from his boarding school, experiences the challenges of growing out of adolescence. Some challenges he faces are the need for security, learning how to accept adulthood, having a fear of change, and having the need to protect innocence, these challenges are represented by various...
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, tells the story of Holden, a teenager who is searching for understanding in the world. After his expulsion from yet another boarding school, Holden runs to New York, where he spends the next few days. During his stay in the city, Holden constantly attempts to connect with others only to end in failure every time. Feeling lonely, Holden rejects reality, prefering to take refuge in his own perfect fantasy world. While Holden’s...
Adolescence, a transitional stage of physical and psychological development occurs during the period from puberty to legal adulthood. Teenagers between thirteen and nineteen years of age, experience awkward increase in stage of their lives. During the teen years, teenagers reveal in some overwhelming external and internal struggles. In the novel “Catcher in the Rye (1951), J.D. Salinger uses the motif growing up and change to reveal, sixteen-year-olds experiences self-esteem, stress, depression. It is important that parents approach their teens, who...
Both J.D. Salinger and David Fincher use similar techniques to tell a story to make the viewer/reader feel attached to the main character in more of a personal way. Some techniques that are present in both The Social Network and The Catcher in the Rye are, setting, language and symbolism. Setting in a big theme in both movies, it is used to give more information about the main character and the environment that they are in. Scene 2 in The...
Written in the mid 1900s, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a classic American text. Salinger tells the story of sixteen-year-old Holden, as he makes his way home after getting expelled from yet another boarding school. Holden, an independent teenager, has an ongoing conversation with the readers as he recounts this story from a mental hospital. Through his recollections, Holden’s personality and character traits shine through. While Holden Caulfield is critical of almost every person he meets, he...
Without a doubt, growing up can be described as one of the most exhilarating yet terrifying experiences an individual may encounter in their lives. The idea that one must dive headfirst into unknown territory, all the while seeking mental and physical rediscovery can take its toll on those who find it difficult to accept that the world is constantly changing around them. The rollercoaster of emotions combatted with the constant pressures of society can dwindle the light waiting to ignite...
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