Brandon Ruggles Jerome David Salinger was an American novelist, raised in Mahattan, Salinger began writing short stories while in secondary school and published several stories in the early 1940s before serving in World War II. J. D. Salinger’s first novel, The Catcher in the Rye, has caused quite a controversy in the literary community over its distasteful language and adult situations. The Catcher in the Rye is written in a subjective style from the point of view of its protagonist, Holden Caulfield, following his exact thought processesThe majority of the novel takes place in December 1949.
The story commences with Holden Caulfield describing encounters he has had with students and faculty of Pencey Prep (scholars often compare Pencey Prep to Valley Forge Military Academy, which Salinger attended from the ages of 15 to 17) in Agerstown, Pennsylvania . “He criticizes them for being superficial, as he would say, phony” (Breit). After being expelled from the school for his poor academic performance, Holden packs up and leaves the school in the middle of the night after a physical altercation with his roommate.
Holden makes the decision that he will head out west, and when he mentions these plans to his little sister, she decides she wants to go with him. Holden declines her offer and refuses to have her accompany him, but makes a mistakes and changes his mind. In “The Catcher in The Rye,” J. D. Salinger abstracts the life of Holden Caulfield, with survivor’s guilt theme, alienation, and separation from family to point out the hardship of a troubled teenager. It should be read by a certain age group. The Catcher in the Rye is set around the 1950s and is narrated by a young man named Holden Caulfield.
Holden is not specific about his location while he’s telling the story, but he makes it clear that he is undergoing treatment in a mental hospital or sanatorium. The events he narrates take place in the few days between the end of the fall school term and Christmas, when Holden is sixteen years old. Holden’s story begins on the Saturday following the end of classes at the Pencey prep school in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. Pencey is Holden’s fourth school; he has already failed out of three others. At Pencey, he has failed four out of five of his classes and has received notice that he is being expelled.
Back in the dormitory, Holden is further irritated by his unhygienic neighbor, Ackley, and by his own roommate, Stradlater. Stradlater spends the evening on a date with Jane Gallagher, a girl whom Holden used to date and whom he still admires. During the course of the evening, Holden grows increasingly nervous about Stradlater’s taking Jane out, and when Stradlater returns, they get in a scuffle. Holden decides that he’s had enough of Pencey and will go to Manhattan three days early, stay in a hotel, and not tell his parents that he is back.
Holden goes to Phoebe’s school and sends her a note saying that he is leaving home for good and that she should meet him at lunchtime at the museum. When Phoebe arrives, she is carrying a suitcase full of clothes, and she asks Holden to take her with him. He refuses angrily, and she cries and then refuses to speak to him. Knowing she will follow him, he walks to the zoo, and then takes her across the park to a carousel. He buys her a ticket and watches her ride it. It starts to rain heavily, but Holden is so happy watching his sister ride the carousel that he is close to tears.
Holden ends his narrative here, telling the reader that he is not going to tell the story of how he went home and got“sick. ” He plans to go to a new school in the fall and is cautiously optimistic about his future. J. D. Salinger has faced criticism time after time. “Ever since its publication in 1951, J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye has served as a firestorm for controversy and debate. Critics have argued the moral issues raised by the book and the context in which it is presented.
Some have argued that Salinger’s tale of the human condition is fascinating and enlightening, yet incredibly depressing. The psychological battles of the novel’s main character, Holden Caulfield, serve as the basis for critical argument. Caulfield’s self-destruction over a period of days forces one to contemplate society’s attitude toward the human condition. Salinger’s portrayal of Holden, which includes incidents of depression, nervous breakdown, impulsive spending, sexual exploration, vulgarity, and other erratic behavior, have all attributed to the controversial nature of the novel.
Yet the novel is not without its sharp advocates, who argue that it is a critical look at the problems facing American youth during the 1950’s. When developing a comprehensive opinion of the novel, it is important to consider the praises and criticisms of The Catcher in the Rye” (Aldrige). Parents have stated time after time that the distasteful language and the sexual scenes are the reason this book is inapprpriate to students. But the novel still has some positive reasons to read this book, like moral behavior and learning to tolerate others.
One day this novel will be not looked at bad and will not be so controversial. Holden suffers deeply from survivor’s guilt. In the Catcher in the Rye, the main character, Holden Caulfield is seemingly disturbed over the death of his younger sibling, Allie. The fact that it was a child who died sends out a message of morbidity and finality- no hopes for a heaven or limbo- and it also sends a sad reminder that life, however new, can also be interrupted. Much similarly, Holden’s life seemed to be as much interrupted by Allie’s death as Allie’s life was.
According to Sallinger, death is also a catalyst. It was the determining factor that changed Holden’s life and turned it upside down. He is telling us his story from a therapy ward, which points to the fact that the shadow of Allie has not left his psyche. Death is also seen as a process that carries with it as much complexity and consequence as life itself. Had this tragedy not occurred, the chain of events in Holden’s life would have been very different: Holden would have had a shot at fitting in, and his ambitions would have been different.
He might have even had a very different perception of life, and a more peaceful interaction with his peers. The torment of Allie’s death from leukemia has perhaps left Holden feeling as if life is not under our control- it can be taken at any moment’s notice. Therefore, his reaction to life became a constant blame game where he assigns responsibility about himself and others on everything that is not our own human will. Much of the novel is a rant against being left alone in a phony, materialistic adult world.
In other words, Salinger uses Holden’s narration to comment on the death of innocence. The other death that deeply bothers Holden is James Castle’s. James Castle was a martyr who fell to his death rather than take back “conceited. ” Holden romanticizes his death and reveres him as a saint, like Mercutio and the nuns–those who martyr themselves or the good life for a noble or humble cause. Holden seems to think that it is better to die young than to become an adult materialist like his parents, brother, and nearly every adult he meets.
He seems to be headed toward a similar suicide until he meets Mr. Antolini. He is a former teacher who found Castle’s body and shielded it from rubber-necks. “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one” (Behrman). Holden doesn’t yet know what his cause in life is. I think it’s the book, his confession about the pain his brother’s death has caused him. So, in the end, the book saves Holden from suicide. Works Cited Page Aldrige, John. “The Society of Three Novels. In Search of Heresy: American Literature in an Age of Conformity. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1956, 126-48. Behrman, S. N. “The Vision of the Innocent. ” Rev. of The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. The New Yorker, Vol. XXVII, No. 26, 11 August 1951, 71-6. Breit, Harvey. Rev. of The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. The Atlantic Bookshelf, Vol. CLXXXVIII, No. 2, August 1951, 82 HYPERLINK “http://search. barnesandnoble. com/booksearch/isbninquiry. asp? lkid=J14964984&pubid=K118697&byo=1&ean=9781411492677&prid=9781411492677”