Catcher In The Rye

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CATCHER IN THE RYE The book, Catcher in the Rye, has been steeped in controversy since it was banned in America after its first publication. John Lennon’s assassin Mark Chapman, asked the former Beatle to sign a copy of the book earlier in the morning of the day he murdered Lennon. Police found the book in his possession upon apprehending the psychologically disturbed Chapman. However, the book itself contains nothing that might have lead Chapman to act as he did. It could have been just any book that he was reading the day he decided to kill John Lennon and as a result, it was the Catcher in the Rye, a book describing a nervous breakdown, that caused the media to speculate widely about the possible connection. This gave the book even more recognition. The character Holden Caulfield ponders the thoughts of death, accuses ordinary people of being phonies, and expresses his love for his sister through out the novel. So what is the book Catcher in the Rye really about? Superficially the story of a young man getting expelled from another school, the Catcher in the Rye is, in fact, a perceptive study of one individual’s understanding of his human condition. Holden Caulfield, a teenager growing up in 1950’s, New York, has been expelled from school for poor achievement once again. In an attempt to deal with this he leaves school a few days prior to the end of term, and goes to New York to take a vacation before returning to his parents’ inevitable irritation. Told as a monologue, the book describe Holden’s thoughts and activities over these few days, during which he describes a developing nervous breakdown. This was evident by his bouts of unexplained depression, impetuous spending and generally odd, erratic behavior, prior to his eventual nervous collapse. Some critics have argued that Holden’s character is erratic and unreliable, as he has many of the middle-class values that he claims to reject. Later on critics began to have praised the twisted humor of the main character. These critics have commented that the structure of the novel helps you understand Holden’s unstable state of mind. Alastair best remarked: "There is a hard, almost classical structure underneath Holden’s rambling narrativ. The style, too, appears effortless; yet one wonders how much labor went into those artfully rough-hewn sentences" (qtd. in Davis 318) A large field of critics took a positive view of the novel.

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