Language Choice Within “the Catcher in the Rye”

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Language Choice Within “The Catcher In The Rye”

In “The Catcher in the Rye” a coming of age story is told of Holden Caulfield. Many conflicts with maturity arise in coming of age literature. Throughout the reading of the text a large amount of graphic language is used by the narrator. The constant cursing and references to classes of people in derogatory terms permeate throughout the reading. This fact alone causes the book to be controversial and in turn banned from many curriculums. The language is often called into question of necessity especially when exposing younger readers to literature. In Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” the vulgarity of the chosen language is necessary to show the character’s multiple inner conflicts. The death of Holden Caulfield’s little brother, Allie, proves to be a conflict that Holden struggles with throughout the story. At one point Holden recalls “I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it . . . I don’t care much. I mean I’m not going to be a goddam surgeon or a violinist or anything anyway” (Salinger, 39). At this point in conversation Holden is recalling the night that his brother died. He admired his brother greatly for his intelligence and sensitivity. When Holden is speaking of his brother the language is always directed at admiration of him until being faced with dealing with the fact that he is gone. When facing the fact of Allie’s death the word choice is always shifted to cursing as shown above when Holden is beating in the windows in the garage. This language is a way for the narrator to shift the focus onto this betrayal as he felt it. Holden never really makes peace with the death and feels it to be unfair. The word choice helps to transition the tone of the character into one of deep cynicism and helps Holden avoid introspection. One of the most common conflicts in coming of age literature is sexuality and “The Catcher in the Rye” exhibits this inner conflict often....
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