Modern English Practice 1
15 January 2013
J. D. Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye is a novel written by the American author Jerome David Salinger. From its first publishing the novel has arose a lot of controversy. Salinger wrote his novel in the first person, addressing the readers in its very beginning, so the readers have a feeling that he speaks directly to them. Furthermore, sequences follow the exact thought processes of the main character, which brings him, as well as the complete novel, even more close to the readers. The story takes place mostly in New York in December 1949, just before the Christmas holidays. The plot ...view middle of the document...
He then proceeds by telling us a story of how he got expelled from his last school, Pencey Prep, often interrupting his narration with many digressions which from we gradually get a wider image of who he is. Holden is a child of quite well-off parents. He has an older brother D.B., who is a writer and one of Holden's favourite writers besides Ring Larder. D.B. now lives in Hollywood and wants to become a successful movie writer, which Holden is strongly judgemental about. They have younger sister Phoebe, who Holden loves the most of all the people he is surrounded by. His two years younger brother Allie had died of leukemia, which greatly affected Holden's attitude toward life. Holden's main trait is the most visible in situation when he leaves his school and dorm room a few days earlier than he was supposed to, and, instead of going straight home to New York, he finds himself wandering the streets of his city, completely disappointed in school, disillusioned and indignant about society. As he roams around New York he is faced with its night life, taxi drives, bars, prostitutes. In other words, he is exposing himself to all the phoniness, meanness and shallowness, he is always so critical about, rather than confronting himself and his parents whose reaction he is afraid of. That way he is trying to escape his two biggest fears – the fear of growing up and the fear of hurting his loved ones, especially his little sister Phoebe, as well as his caring and sensitive mother.
In my opinion, in the character of Holden Caulfield there is a series of contradictions colliding, which is why it is quite tough to be objective. On one hand, he is an immature teenager, most of the time feeling lonesome and depressed about the smallest details he pays attention to, yet feeling rather bored the rest of the time. The only thing that ‘kills him’ is his sister Phoebe, who he considers the smartest ten-year-old he has ever met. Holden is far away from being a good role model to her, but it seems that little girl is more mature than he will ever be. Putting it that way, we can see her influents Holden in the most positive way, rudely awakens him into reality by convincing him to come back home, stop lying and avoiding the real consequences of his...