Essay Prompts

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Essay Prompts:
1. In The Catcher in the Rye, several characters appear briefly, or do not appear at all, yet have a significant presence in the work. In an essay, show how such a character functions in the work. You may wish to discuss how the character affects action, theme, or the development of other characters. Avoid plot summary.

2. Some might categorize The Catcher in the Rye as a bildungsroman, a novel concerned with the maturation of a young protagonist. In an essay, show how Holden Caulfield perhaps counteracts the typical bildungsroman protagonist. Avoid plot summary. 3. Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye wrestles with accepting the responsibilities that often accompany adolescence. Write an essay that illustrates how the novel contributed to your understanding of assuming responsibility as a teenager. 4. In The Catcher in the Rye, some of the most significant events are mental or psychological; for example, awakenings, discoveries, changes in consciousness. In a well-organized essay, describe how the author manages to give these internal events the sense of excitement, suspense, and climax usually associated with external action. Do not merely summarize the plot.

5. Writers often highlight the values of a culture or a society by using characters who are alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, class, or creed.  In The Catcher in the Rye, show how such a character’s alienation reveals the surrounding society’s assumptions and moral values.

6. One definition of madness is “mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it.” But Emily Dickinson wrote “Much madness is divinest Sense / To a discerning Eye.  Novelists and playwrights have often seen madness with a “discerning Eye.” In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield’s apparent madness or irrational behavior plays an important role. Write a well-organized essay in which you explain what this delusion or eccentric behavior consists...
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