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Keep the Catcher in Schools

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Keep the Catcher in Schools

        The book The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger captures the mind of a boy named Holden Caulfield. It is written through Holden's perspective in the future at a psychiatric hospital. Since it is written from Holden's perspective, the reader gets the narrator's unfiltered thoughts as events transpired. This includes much vulgarity, which is one reason the book has been scrutinized and even banned by some schools. However, the has much more to offer than just a slew of curses. Because it has relatable elements and a creative writing style, using the stream of consciousness format, The Catcher in the Rye should continue to be read and discussed in schools.
        In contemporary books, authors tend to use a third-person format, where the narrator has an omniscience that portrays everyone's focused opinion. In his book, Salinger breaks this norm and created Holden. As a character, Holden has a very sporadic mindset, often jumping from one thought to the next within a sentence or two. In the book, Holden says, "I told him to go wash his own moron face
—which was a pretty childish thing to say, but I was mad as hell. I told him to stop off on the way to the can and give Mrs. Schmidt the time. Mrs. Schmidt was the janitor's wife. She was around sixty-five" (Salinger 45). In this scenario, Holden goes from talking angrily to his roommate to thinking about the janitor's wife, within a matter of seconds. This skewed way of thinking is much more true to how people actually think. While it is possible to stay on track for minutes or even a couple hours at a time, going days on end without ever having a single tangent thought cross someone's mind is a bit unusual.
        In addition to a very creative writing style, the Catcher also has a slew of relatable elements. A big theme throughout the book is the loss of innocence that comes with growing up. Holden thinks of himself as a lost cause to this effort, but believes all kids are innocent, until they become exposed to society for what it truly is. In the story, Holden declared, "
That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose." (Salinger 204). This is relatable because as a people grow up, they experience new things that change their point of view on the world in a darker tone. The sheltered facade eventually fades away and people see the world for what it truly is, a pretty depressing place.
        Critics of the book have often complained about the book being too outdated and too vulgar for teenagers. The entire story probably couldn't even happen in modern society, as getting kicked out of school and vanishing for a couple days would result in an amber alert. Also, every other sentence seems to have a curse word or two thrown into it. While both of these are true, the book is still suitable for the teenage level. While the journey Holden took wouldn't be possible, the idea could still happen. Someone just taking some time to them self and reflecting on where their life is heading. As for the constant swearing, it has become desensitized when used so abundantly. The presence of the powerful themes if enough to overpower the other flaws with the book.
The Catcher in the Rye is a good book that should be read by high school students. Even though some of the material in the book might be outdated or crass, it still delivers powerful messages to the reader. It even makes them evaluate their own life through how relatable it is, making one question things such as society's role in the development of an individual. It has become a timeless piece of literature that should continue to be enjoyed by all.

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