J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye

:: 5 Works Cited
Length: 1472 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye



The passage of adolescence has served as the central theme for many

novels, but J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, long a staple in academic

lesson plans, has captured the spirit of this stage of life in hyper-sensitive

form, dramatizing Holden Caulfield's vulgar language and melodramatic

reactions. Written as the autobiographical account of a fictional teenage prep

school student Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye deals with material

that is socially scandalous for the times (Gwynn, 1958). As an emotional,

intelligent, inquisitive, and painfully sensitive young man, Holden puts his

inner world to the test through the sexual mores of his peers and elders, the

teachings of his education, and his own emerging sense of self. Throughout

the years, the language of the story has startled some readers. Salinger's

control of Holden's easy, conversational manner makes the introduction of

these larger themes appear natural and believable. (Bloom, 1990).



At the time of the novel through today, Holden's speech rings true to the

colloquial speech of teenagers. Holden, according to many reviews in the

Chicago Tribune, the New Yorker, and the New York Times, accurately

captures the informal speech of an average intelligent, educated, northeastern

American adolescent (Costello, 1990). Such speech includes both simple

description and cursing. For example, Holden says, "They're nice and all", as

well as "I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or

anything." In the first instance, he uses the term "nice" which oversimplifies

his parents' character, implying he does not wish to disrespect them, yet at

the same time he does not praise them. At best he deems them as "nice and

all." Holden further cuts short his description, but in a more curt manner,

when he states he will not tell his "whole goddam autobiography or anything."

From the start the reader picks up Holden's hostility and unwillingness to

share his views strictly by his use of language (Salzman, 1991).



From the last two examples, another colloquialism can be seen. Holden

has a habit of ending his descriptions with tag phrases such as "and all" or "or

anything." (Salzman, 1991). Not only does Holden speak like this in the

beginning of the novel, but throughout the book, making this pattern a part of

his character. One could imagine Holden frequently ending his sentences

with "and all," realizing it is a character trait since not all teenagers used that

phrase. So the "and all" tag to Holden's speech served to make his speech

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye." 123HelpMe.com. 25 Sep 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=91077>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Catcher In The RyeCatcher in the Rye by Salinger Essay - Catcher in the Rye by Salinger Anyway, I'm sort of glad they've got the atomic bomb invented. If there's ever another war, I'm going to sit right the hell on top of it. I'll volunteer for it, I swear to God I will. ~Chapter 18 Existence as it is. Well, based on Holden Caulfield's twisted neuro-functioning that is. Being the main character, the speaker and the only voice for an in-depth critique perspective in the book, Holden is the lone door to his realm....   [tags: Salinger Catcher Rye] 1228 words
(3.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye Essay - J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger's notable and esteemed novel, Catcher in the Rye, reflects the hypercritical views of a troubled teenager, Holden Caulfield, towards everyone around him and society itself. This character has a distinguished vision of a world where morality, principles, intelligence, purity, and naivety should override money, sex, and power, but clearly in the world he inhabits these qualities have been exiled. Holder desperately clings to and regards innocence as one of the most important virtues a person can have....   [tags: Catcher Rye Salinger] 1237 words
(3.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye Essay - J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye The passage of adolescence has served as the central theme for many novels, but J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, long a staple in academic lesson plans, has captured the spirit of this stage of life in hyper-sensitive form, dramatizing Holden Caulfield's vulgar language and melodramatic reactions. Written as the autobiographical account of a fictional teenage prep school student Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye deals with material that is socially scandalous for the times (Gwynn, 1958)....   [tags: J.D. Salinger Catcher Rye Essays]
:: 5 Works Cited
1472 words
(4.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye: The Symbolism Behind the Book Essay - J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye: The Symbolism Behind the Book The Catcher in the Rye is written by J.D. Salinger. This book in particular is closely based on the life of Salinger. The symbols in this book are very highly developed and have a lot to do with the development of Holden's character and also explain how he feels about certain things in his life. The three most important symbols in this book are ducks in the pond in Central Park, the speech and discussion about digression at Mr....   [tags: Catcher Rye Salinger] 1471 words
(4.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye Essay - J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye "There’s far more to the censorship issue than a ban on sex and four-letter words. I sometimes think that those of us who need to be the most clearheaded about these matters are planting the very trees that obscure our view of the forest," says Dorothy Briley. According to Briley, a vast amount more is needed than simply vulgar language and suggestive material to censor a novel. But this is the very reason why J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is frequently being banned from high schools....   [tags: Salinger Catcher Rye Essays] 912 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay Failed Support Systems in Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - Failed Support Systems in Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Life is difficult especially for a teenager as they try to discover themselves. To make this journey of self-discovery alone is especially difficult. Support systems offer guidance and comfort along the way. The primary support system are parents. They begin the preparations for a child to take his place in society. Religion offers moral guidance. Friends offer positive self-esteem and encouragement. In the book, the Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger, the main character, Holden Caulfield, has none of these support systems....   [tags: Catcher Rye Salinger] 1035 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Holden's Depression in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye Essay - Everybody feels depressed at some time or another in their lives.  However, it becomes a problem when depression is so much a part of a person's life that he or she can no longer experience happiness.  This happens to the young boy, Holden Caulfield in J.D Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye.  Mr. Antolini accurately views the cause of Holden's depression as his lack of personal motivation, his inability to self-reflect and his stubbornness to overlook the obvious which collectively results in him giving up on life before he ever really has a chance to get it started....   [tags: Catcher Rye Essays Salinger Papers]
:: 1 Works Cited
1532 words
(4.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Childhood and Adulthood in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Essay - Childhood and Adulthood in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger     Holden Caulfield sees childhood as the ideal state of being. He thinks adulthood is filled with corrupt people. The only way anyone can win in the adult world is if the cards are stacked in his favor. The characters in The Catcher in the Rye play a diverse set of roles in the war between childhood and adulthood.       Children do not think of appearances very highly, but in order to be respected in the adult world you must always look your best....   [tags: Catcher Rye Essays Salinger Papers]
:: 1 Works Cited
826 words
(2.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Conflict in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye Essay - The Catcher In The Rye, by J.D. Salinger, portrays many different ideas in an everyday society. These ideas and thoughts are expressed through the protagonist in the novel, Holden Morrissey. Holden views many things in society as fake or “phony” at an idealistic point-of-view. This contributes to many conflicts and biased thoughts throughout the novel. The way that Holden thinks and acts causes many conflicts to take place during the course of the novel. Because of the way he thinks, he doesn't relate to people of his own age leading to countless problems....   [tags: The Catcher in the Rye Essays] 505 words
(1.4 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Psychological Problems in Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye Essays - Psychological Problems in Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye Jerome David Salinger was a very famous American author who wrote several books. One of his most successful books was The Catcher in the Rye. Other works by Salinger include the short story collection Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, and Raise High The Beam, Carpenter and Seymour....   [tags: The Catcher in the Rye Essays] 1489 words
(4.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]




authentic and individual. (Salzman, 1991). Salinger intentionally used such

speech patterns to help individualize Holden, yet to also make him a

believable teenager of the early 1950's.



Another example of how Holden's speech helped define his character

is how he constantly had to confirm any affirmation he made, as if even he

did not quite believe himself. Such reconfirmations include phrases such as

"...if you want to know the truth," or "...it really does." Holden says the first

phrase several times. "I have no wind, if you want to know the truth," "I'm

pacifist, if you want to know the truth," and a variation: "She had a lot of sex

appeal, too, if you really want to know." In each of the above instances,

Holden makes a statement then feels compelled to clarify that is he is not

making it up but is, in fact, telling the truth. These mannerisms may point to

several aspects of his character. For example, Holden is on the verge of

failing out of preparatory school and fears telling his parents. Because he did

not do well in school, Holden may have felt as though no one ever took him

seriously and realized his actions left him with no solid academic standing.

Since Holden is essentially a failure at school with no serious friendships, he

attempts to solidify some communication in asking for approval by stating "if

you want to know the truth." Holden wants people to believe him so he

speeks to seek approval (Costello, 1990). Again, Salinger creates this speech

pattern as believable for a common teenager, yet it also seems to belong

individually to Holden.



The Catcher in the Rye gained much of its notoriety for the language

used in it, particularly the crude words (Gwynn, 1958). Like most colloquial

uses of body parts, accidents of birth, or religious connotations, Holden does

not strictly make use of words in reference to their original meaning. The

word "hell" is a staple of Holden's vocabulary, and he uses it often with both

positive and negative connotations. In one instance, he tells us he had a

"helluva time," when he and Phoebe sneaked away and had a good time

shopping for shoes downtown. Other statements include "pretty as hell,"

"playful as hell," or "hot as hell."



Holden's perception that situations were anything but normal in some

relation to the extremes of the usage of "hell" is applied to both positive and

negative situations. In each use of the word, Holden uses "hell" as a way to

expresses the confusion of adolescence and his own regular use of it

illustrates his own extreme sensitivity as a character (Gwynn, 1958).



As Holden's experiences change, so does his use of crude language.

When he is caught up in his own antics and is enraged, "sonuvabitch" and

"bastard" frequently find their way into his vocabulary. However, when he

addresses the reader as a narrator, Holden rarely, if ever, slips into his

habitual use of swearing (Costello, 1990). "Sonuvabitch" is reserved for his

extreme anger, as when he kept calling Stradlater a "moron sonuvabitch" for

the boy's ostensibly offensive treatment of Jane Gallagher. Again, Holden's

sporadic use of "sonuvabitch" in his angriest moments alerts the reader to the

serious quality of his anger. Salinger carefully crafted such speech patterns to

help us identify Holden's character without lengthy descriptions of such.

Here, the offending words lets the reader know when Holden is most angry

and the types of situations that make him so, thereby offering further insight

into his character, often through the use of a single word.



Holden's regular use of curse words to describe his view of any given

situation leaves the impression his vocabulary is limited, as observed in one

much younger than himself. However, Holden recognizes that he has a

limited vocabulary and uncomprehendingly identifies it himself (Salzman,

1991). He makes use of cursing in an effort to add emphasis to his otherwise

simplistic verbiage. For example, Holden says "That guy Morrow was about

as sensitive as a goddam toilet seat" (Salinger, 1951). The best reference

Holden could think of was "toilet seat," a simple item readily grasped by even

young children. To give this simile more emphasis, Holden, as usual, tosses

in a curse word. Holden makes another toilet-like reference when he says

"He started handling my paper like it was a turd or something," (Salinger,

1951) when referring to his teacher's expressions and body language while

picking up some written work Holden had done. "Turd" is a word a recently

potty-trained child might use instead of a prep school teen. So Holden not

only admits to having a limited vocabulary, but he has a vocabulary seemingly

limited to one even younger than his age.



Holden's regular use of cursing demonstates not only the depth of his

emotion, but signals the reader to the fact that he is caught in the stage where

childhood and approaching maturity collide. He relates poorly to instances

other than those from his early youth, and tries in vain to bridge the gap

between adolescent and adult worlds with his use of profanity. He fails to

notice that his cursing loses much of his intended rebellious impact by his

overuse of the words. Rather than successfully rebelling against school or his

parents, Holden appears sometimes tortured and pathetic, and sometimes just

plain silly.



This superficiality of youth leaves him with little ability to

communicate because he relies so heavily on simple words and thoughts to

express the majority of his feelings. While Holden's teenage angst is

apparent, Salinger carefully crafted Holden's vocabulary to create a character

who is believable.



     As Holden's vocabulary and outlook on life demonstrate to us his character as

a fictional persona, the realistic flavor of his vocabulary mixed with emotion

unfailingly ties him with the harsh realities of adolescence and the youth of

his time.



Works Cited





Bloom, HB. Major Literary Characters: Holden Caulfield. Chelsea

House Publishers. New York, 1990.



Costello, DP. The Language of the Catcher in the Rye. Holden

Caulfield. Cambridge, New York; Cambridge University Press, 1990.



Gwynn, F. The Fiction of JD Salinger. University of Pittsburg Press.

1958





Salinger, JD. The Catcher in the Rye, Little, Brown and Co. Boston,

1951.





Salzman, J. The American Novel: New Essays on the Catcher in the

Rye. Cambridge University Press, 1991.



Return to 123HelpMe.com