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Catcher in the Rye

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Essay title: Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, has been a book of great controversy since its publication in 1951. To this day, the language and situations created by the narrator, Holden Caulfield, attract much attention to the legalization of the novel. “The interpretation of Catcher on which its banning was predicated, was based on the perception that Holden is an unregenerate, unchanged, blaspheming and marginally insane person. These statements are simply untrue and cannot be further from actuality. Holden does in fact change by the end of the novel. It is a slow process that Holden manages to make for himself.

From the beginning of the novel, Holden is an extremely negative and pessimistic person. He believes that the world is against him, and that almost all authority figures are “phonies”. Holden wishes that the world would never change, much like the Museum of Natural History. He believes that way, “everything would stay right where it was. Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you.” (Catcher 121) Holden’s use of the word “you” and not “me [Holden]” creates a distance between himself and the fact that he has in some ways changed. Although he wishes he can remain exactly the same like the displays in the museum. Holden’s use of “you” is simply used to help keep himself in denial of the fact that everyone changes, even himself.

Much later in the novel, Holden’s younger sister Phoebe asks him what he wants to do with his life. Holden replies “I want to be the catcher in the Rye and all.” (Catcher 173) Holden explains that he pictures thousands of kids playing in a field and that he is the one that has to grab them before they fall over the cliff. This makes it very clear that Holden’s view of children and other people is grossly oversimplified. He prefers to escape into his own imaginary view of the world than to deal with the one around him. It is seen much later in chapter 25 when Holden makes his next drastic change. When Holden’s younger sister Phoebe is riding on a carousel we find a completely different narrator.

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