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The First Person Narrator in J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye Essay

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In J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the first person narration played a critical role in helping the reader to know and understand the main character, Holden Caulfield. Salinger also uses symbolism to help portray the theme that not everything that glitters is gold. Holden, in his narration, relates a flashback of a significant period of his life, three days and nights on his own in New York City. Through his narration, Holden discloses to the reader his innermost thoughts and also helps to introduce the reader to many of the symbols strategically placed throughout the novel. He thus provides the reader with not only information of what occurred, but also how he felt about what happened. In the Catcher in the Rye, Holden views the world as an evil and corrupt place where there is no peace. This perception of the world does not significantly change through the course of the novel. However, with the novel’s progression, Holden gradually comes to the realization that he is powerless to change the state of the world.
During the short period of Holden’s life covered in this book, Holden in many ways does succeed in making his audience perceive the world as crazy. One late Saturday night, Holden is alone, bored and restless, wondering what to do. Holden decides to leave Pence, his school, at once and travels to New York by train. Shortly after Holden leaves Pencey Prep he checks into the Edmont hotel which is where Holden’s turmoil begins. Holden spends the evening in the hotel he describes as “full of perverts and morons” and “screwballs all over the place” Salinger, J. D. Catcher in the rye. Boston: Little, Brown, 1991. From this point on Holden’s situation continuously deteriorates as he begins to look around and become more...


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...ding on how these events lead holden to in many ways close himself off and attempt to protect and the people he loved from the negativity of the world. Holden had his innocence essentially stolen from him through these two events, which led him to form these somewhat twisted ideas about the world and a very apparent obsession with death.


Works Cited
American Speech 34 (1959): 172-81. ITHAKA. JSTOR. 30 Nov. 2009 .

New essays on the Catcher in the Rye. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.
The Psychological Structure of The Catcher in the Rye. 5th ed. Vol. 89. NY: MLA, 1974.

Salinger, J. D. Catcher in the rye. Boston: Little, Brown, 1991.

Strauch, Carl F. "Kings in the Back Row: Meaning through Structure. A Reading of Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye"" Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature 2 (1961): 5-30.


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