Holden Caulfield and Language

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Holden’s language reflects the bitter, angry, and cynical aspects of his personality. Holden’s constant use of profanity and obsession with certain words such as: no kidding, madman, and crazy reinforces that he is a person that is not mentally health yand justifies his feelings about the phoniness of the world. His use of profanity is very strong. He refers to Stradlater as a “dirty stupid sonuvabitch of a moron.” He also tells Maurice that he’s a “goddam dirty moron.” These outbursts are reflective of Holden’s anger and bitterness toward some people. Holden also states that he is “the most terrific liar you ever saw in your whole life.” This would support the reason why he continuously says “no kidding.” He wants to make sure that people believe him because many times he knows he’s lying. When he’s on the train talking with Mrs. Morrow about his alleged tumor, he “started reading this timetable…just to stop lying.” Next, Holden refers to himself as a madman on a few occasions. When Stradlater asks Holden to stop smoking in the room, Holden ignores him. And “went right on smoking like a madman.” When he went to buy the stationery to write a good-bye note to Phoebe, he “ran like a madman across the street.” And “damn near got killed doing it.” Similarly, his obsession with craziness is demonstrated when he describes “Sally Hayes’s crazy mother, standing outside some department store and collecting dough for poor people in a beat-up old straw basket.” Finally, Holden imagines himself being a deaf-mute living in the wilderness. Although he knows that pretending to be a deaf-mute is crazy, he still likes the idea. As a result of all of Holden’s anger and negative feelings toward the adult world, he longs for the innocence of being a kid.
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