Is "The Catcher in the Rye" a Subversive Text?

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  • Topic: World War II, Post-War, World War I
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Is "The Catcher in the Rye" a subversive text?

From a deep study of the novel, I strongly agree that "The Catcher in the Rye" is a subversive text. From a continued study of the novel I strongly believe that the statement "The Catcher in the Rye is a subversive text which sought to undermine the moral fibre of post world war two society" is an accurate depiction of Salinger's novel. In the novel Holden expresses his dispassionate attitude towards war by claiming he is a " pacifist".

I firmly believe there are various references throughout the novel which further endorse its subversive qualities, one of which being the continual recurrence of Holden's red hunting hat. The critic Maxwell Geismar asks "But what does he argue for?" referring to Holden's rebel without a cause status, as we see even by wearing a hat Holden is again refusing to conform to society's current state of normality. Holden's hunting hat, in my opinion, represents another subversive element in the novel which would have been controversial in the early 1950s. Holden is emotionally fragile and volatile throughout the novel and his inability to ask for help depicts a rather self destructive character which supports Baldwin's theory of Holden "hunting himself". I strongly agree that the suicidal elements of the novel adds to the rebellious disposition of the text which sought to destabilize the post war society. Holden dares to question the routine of life which has been deemed normal in his culture, which a post-war world would generally not appreciate. I believe there is evidence in Holden's self exile from his world to support the view that The Catcher in the Rye was a subversive text which sought to undermine the post world war 2 society. The critic Paul Engle described Holden's situation in The Catcher in the Rye as "…the unique story of a unique child." Further episodes in the novel in fact show Salinger's criticisms of society's increasingly relaxed use of swear words. I feel the...
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