Catcher in the Rye

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Worth Reading and Teaching

Ever since its publication in 1951, the quality of J. D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, has been a controversy. The story has been praised for its enlightening views on society, but criticized for its use of slang and sexual content. Nevertheless, the story is worth both reading and teaching, for the story still relates to the lives of today’s teenagers, introduces a unique writing style to its readers, and teaches its readers an important lesson about phoniness. Throughout the novel, the main character, Holden Caulfield, attempts to catch innocent children before they fall off the cliff and die or before they lose their innocence and become a corrupt and phony adult. While doing so, he suffers isolation and severe depression because he realizes that he is unable to prevent children from growing up. At first glance, the story seems to be about an immature teenager confused about life who criticizes almost everyone and everything around him. But when the story is given some deeper thought, it can be seen as a story about a boy’s struggle with adolescence and his transition between childhood and adulthood.

Although the story may seem outdated because it was written in the early twentieth century, it still has to do with the basic ideas of what teenagers go through today, including their search for independence and their impulsiveness. Throughout the story, Holden isolates himself from everyone else. One way he isolates himself is by wearing a red hunting hat, which he bought all by himself in New York. A red hunting hat alone is an odd and unique hat for a teenager to wear, but Holden even wears it in a weird fashion. Today’s teenagers strive to be different from each other, and one way they express themselves is through their clothes. Another reason for Holden’s isolation is his impulsiveness throughout the whole story. In the beginning of the novel, Holden thinks that his roommate Stradlater took advantage of Jane and...
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