J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye is the chronicle of a young man's metamorphosis from immaturity to unsure manhood. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, is a sixteen-year old boy who leaves the prep school he has been expelled from to escape the frightening reality of dealing with his parents. However, during his visit to New York City he is faced with the harsh reality that he cannot continue to hold onto his childhood. Holden is an extremely complex character and it is only by examining each layer of him that the reader is able to understand his painful metamorphosis.
There have been many debates over the morality of Holden. At the time of publication many critics saw Holden as a poor specimen of the youth of America. As the story opens he has flunked out of prep school for the third time and decides to run away to New York unbeknownst to his parents or the school authorities. Holden uses obscenities and blasphemes multiple times within sentences; he attempts to solicit a prostitute, and even calls himself a coward. True, Holden does not fair well when held up to the conventional moral codes of a young man of the fifties. Nevertheless, the reader must keep in mind that however complex Holden is, he is still just a boy trying to understand and be accepted by the world around him. Holden hides behind the profanities he uses. He does not use them referring to a person, but rather as a vague intensifier for his thoughts. Holden uses them to appear tough and to hide his insecurities as a teenager. He also bargains for the services of a prostitute his first night in the city. However, Holden does not have sex with her after he becomes sad talking to her. He do...
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...says on Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Joel Salzberg. Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co., 1990. 23-24.
3. Jacobs, Robert G. "The Catcher in the Rye: Holden Caulfield's Goddamn Autobiography." If You Wanted to Know. Marsden, Malcolm M. Chicago, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1963. 55-62.
4. Kaplan, Charles. "Holden and Huck: The Odysseys of Youth." If You Wanted to Know. Marsden, Malcolm M. Chicago, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1963. 127-130.
5. Lettis, Richard. The Catcher in the Rye. Great Neck, New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1964. 1-18.
6. Maclean, Hugh. "Conservatism in Modern American Fiction." If You Wanted to Know. Marsden, Malcolm M. Chicago, Illinois: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1963. 14-15
7. Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston, Massachusettes: Little, Brown and Company, 1951. 1-277.
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