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Catcher in the Rye Essay: Holden - The Misfit Hero

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The Misfit Hero of The Catcher In The Rye

 
    The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger was published in 1951. "A recurring theme in J.D. Salinger's stories concerns people who don't fit in with the traditional American Culture. Salinger's 'misfit heroes', unlike the rest of society, are caught in the struggle between a superficial world and a conscious morality" (1 Wildermuth). In his attempt to create a new and realistic portrayal of the times, Salinger first, effectively creates Holden Caulfield, the main character. Second, he sends his character on a quest, and third he titles his novel to sum up the whole overview of the story.

 

In creating his character, Holden Caulfield, Salinger uses profanities and obscenities as an attempt to portray the world of most adolescents. He creates a character that is not really in rebellion against the established values of the adult world, but as a victim. Holden is possessed with a strong sense of justice and respectability. His moral system and sense of justice force him to find horrible flaws in society, which he sums up with the word "phony". "Holden's principle difficulty is not that he is a rebel, or that he hates the society he lives in, or its morals, nor that he is a coward, but rather that he is unable to sort out, or to purge himself of his burden of sensation. He is blocked with memory and experience, and Salinger indicates this in the intentional confusion of time in his thoughts" (53 Kaplan). Holden, much like Salinger himself, is a person who is removed from society and therefore more independent than the person who must rely upon society.

 

Catcher In The Rye is an episodic novel about an adolescent boy on the brink of adulthood. Yet, the action itself i...


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Frangedis, Helen. "Dealing with the Controversial Elements in The Catcher In The Rye". English Journal. 77.7 (1988): 72-75.

Kaplan, Robert B. Cliff's Notes: Catcher In The Rye. Lincoln: Cliff's Notes, Inc., 1999.

Marsden, Malcolm M. If You Really Want To Know: A Catcher Casebook. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1963.

Miller Jr., James E. "American Literature". World Book Encyclopedia. Volume 1. Chicago: World Book Inc., 1983.

Pinsker, Sanford. The Catcher In The Rye: Innocence Under Pressure. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Roemer, Danielle M. "The Personal Narrative and Salinger's Catcher in the Rye". Western Folklore 51 (1992): 5-10.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher In The Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951.

Wildermuth, April. "Nonconformism in the Works of J.D. Salinger." 1997 Brighton High School. 24 November 1999.


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