The Catcher In The Rye: Why It Is An American Classic?

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 541
  • Published: April 11, 2007
Read full document
Text Preview
This essay was written by a 16 Year Old (2006) in a selective high school (Sydney) in the top English class (later on became Dux of English). Was chosen to be the 'model' essay, so I guess its an A+ or 10/10. 2000 words.

*********************The Catcher In The Rye has been renowned as a classic due to a wide range of factors which have been able to garner appeal to the audience throughout the ages. JD Salinger has created a character- Holden Caulfield, which the audience can easily identify and relate to, demonstrated via his wandering style of thought and retelling of events in the book. Similarly, Holdens popular culture and social commentary reveals much of the human condition, which the audience throughout time could relate to, particularly of the universal theme of growing up in an adult world. Thus, it is through Holden which the audience can follow his physical and mental journey through a conservative 1950s society which he constantly rejects and rebels against.

Firstly, perhaps what has made The Catcher In The Rye such a classic is of Salingers portrayal of Holden Caulfield. A teenage boy full of angst and rebelliousness in growing up and accepting the adult world, Holdens character is one which depicts him as an insecure, distrusting and hateful of superficiality type person, making him an antihero throughout his journey. Within the first chapters of the book, Holden impresses upon the reader that he is indeed a black sheep of society. He finds no reason to stay in school, undervaluing education and does not think much of his future. This is perhaps best exemplified with his scoffing cynicism to Mr Spencers statement of,Life is a game boy, a game one plays accordingly to the rules.To which Holden then speaks in his mind,Game my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then its a game all right- Ill admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there arent any hot-shots, then whats a game about? Nothing. No game.Such a depressing statement provides insight to Holdens mind that he purposely omits himself from participating in the game- that is, of life itself; on the side of where theyre arent any hot-shots.

This is reinforced even further with arguably one of Holdens most famous quips- the words phoney and phoniness. However, these quotes of Holden should not merely be dismissed as just slang a 1950s teen uses, but demonstrating Holdens open disdain for superficiality and societys emphasis on status and social standing. For example, Holden comments on his roommate Stradlater as a kind of a handsome guy that if your parents saw in your Year Book, theyd right away say, Whos this boy?. However, Holden also observes Stradlater as a secret slob shown with his crummy razor which he uses in order to maintain a pleasant appearance in attracting girls, another form of socialising which Holden abhors.

Another form in which Holden rejects society and its debauchery is of its emphasis on money. He buys the hunting cap for only a buck and it quickly establishes itself to become one of Holdens cherished items. His brother Allies baseball mitt, holds sentimental value for him and is the chosen topic he chooses to write a composition about. However, one must also note that despite Holdens opposition towards the materialistic society of America, he also indulges in many of its other vices. For example, Holden smokes in excess and tries more than once (albeit unsuccessfully) to order alcoholic drinks, although it is unsure whether he does so in order to drown his sorrows or as an attempt to look mature. Such a hypocritical nature of Holden reminds the audience that Holden has a distorted view on society and life in general, quite often classifying social norms into negative light in being phoney as well as presenting absurd ideas to himself, such as abandoning his old life and taking up a new start as a deaf-mute.

Such irrational thinking displayed by Holden reveals another aspect...
tracking img