Catcher in the Rye

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Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the Rye: A Coming of Age Tale

This novel explores many themes that are commonly felt by teenagers.

Salinger’s novel discusses Holden’s stand against phoniness. Another major

theme running through the novel is self-loathing, and while it may not be quite

that extreme in all cases, most teenagers go through the “awkward” stage.

Loneliness is also expressed in the novel. Every teenager goes through a time

were they feel like they’re alienated. In a lot of ways, Holden also literally wants

to be the catcher in the rye. These are just some of the themes that run through

this novel. Jerome David Salinger only wrote one novel, Catcher in the Rye. It

was published in 1951. It was called a genuine American tale and greatly

praised. After this success, Salinger went into seclusion. All he wrote before his

“disappearance” were four novellas and thirty-five short stories. Of these stories

he preserved only nine. J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye displays the typical

teenage alienation and depression.

Salinger’s novel discusses Holden’s stand against phoniness. Holden’s

deep contempt for all things that are phony is expressed throughout the novel.

He even condemns people he doesn’t know as phonies, such as the man that his

wing of the dorms at Pencey is named after, an undertaker named Ossenburger.

“I can just see that big phony bastard asking Jesus to send him more stiffs.”(p.17)

It is evident from the passage that Holden seems to think many people are

phonies, but mostly people who have done better than he has in life who he

doesn’t always know. He especially hates the movies and comic books. “Those ...

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but not excessive. The novel is accurately written as an adolescent would write

it. That makes it relatively easy to understand and interpret. It’s easy to see

things from Holden’s perspective. It’s refreshing that he doesn’t fish for

sympathy, he simply tells it like it is. Holden is a real character, created by a man

with a brilliantly flexible imagination. The novel is intended also as a piece of

social criticism. Not just by discussing the overall fakeness of society, but also by

relating it. Fake people don’t change, they’re always there, it’s sort of depressing

when you take a good look at people and realize that. Salinger directly

addresses this point. He also suggests that trusting people leads to inner pain.

The novel ,all in all, is like a sort of guide for teenagers lost in their own


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