J.D. Sallinger's The Catcher in the Rye

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Literary Analysis In the book The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, characterization of Holden Caulfield reveals a classic coming-of-age story. Throughout the novel, Holden’s character develops and begins to transition from being a child to being an adult. His journey in the story helps him recognize his true identity, in both positive and negative ways. The Catcher in the Rye takes places in the late 1940’s to the early 1950’s in both Pennsylvania and New York. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield, finds himself stuck in difficult situations and must find his own way out. The book emphasizes his struggles against death and growing up, as well as Holden’s innocence. His journey throughout the novel shows readers just how hard life can prove to be. Although Holden can be described as a realistic, cynical teenager, he can also be categorized as straightforward. This is one of Holden’s strengths, he sees the truth for what it really is, not how he wants it to be. For example, Holden describes his old school, Pencey Prep, saying, “I didn’t know anyone there that was splendid and clear-thinking at all.” (Salinger 3) Pencey Prep had claimed that they had the capability to “mold” young men, but Holden could see right through it. Holden’s straightforward characteristic also leads him to be independent and self-reliant, which are also Holden’s strengths. Holden Caulfield, throughout the novel, excludes himself and seems to be victimized by the world around him. His isolation is a form of protection for himself, but it is also the source of his problems. Holden’s sense of superiority is a cause of his isolation; he is trying to prove to others that he is above interacting with them. His alienation is the cause of most of his prob... ... middle of paper ... ...self, he is dealing with mostly his own internal problems. This conflict contributes to one of Holden’s main weaknesses, his constant confinement. However, as the story continues and Holden’s character continues to develop, his isolation among public affairs starts to diminish. Holden’s conflict slowly begins to amend itself and soon enough Holden is no longer carrying the burden of his cynical psyche. By the end of the book, The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger’s purpose was clear. He wanted to create a novel with the main character characterized as an outcast, rather than a popular or strong protagonist. J.D. Salinger gave the story a different perspective, hoping to make readers look at life with a different perspective also. After reading this novel, readers will be able to view adulthood and childhood at different angles, giving life a whole new approach.
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