English Philology 4th year/100304104
Part II - American Literature
SECTION ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION
Among the most celebrated and enigmatic twentieth-century American writers, I choose J.D. Salinger as my main author because is best known for his first and only published novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as for him being a short story master, a defining portrait of adolescent in postwar American society. The novel's disaffected hero, Holden Caulfield, continues to speak to generations of young readers as an endearing icon of youthful cynicism and defiance against adult “phoniness” and conformity. Salinger is also acclaimed as a master of the short story form. His Glass family saga, an interrelated series of stories contained in Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey , and Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters; and Seymour: An Introduction, further established his popularity and spawned a proliferation of critical interest in his work - an “industry” of exegesis that Salinger sought to quell through his self-imposed exile. As for Franny and Zooey, it consists of the short story named Franny and a novella called Zooey. Here he combines them in one piece of work, as they have been published previously as separate works. Born in New York City, Salinger is the second child of Sol Salinger, a prosperous Jewish importer, and Miriam Jillich Salinger, a gentile of Scotch-Irish descent. Raised in upscale Manhattan apartment buildings, Salinger attended New York public schools before enrolling at the exclusive McBurney School on the upper West Side in 1932. Recalled as an aloof, introspective, and academically unexceptional student, Salinger was subsequently sent to Valley Forge Military
Academy in Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1936. While at Valley Forge, he contributed to the school's literary magazine, served as literary editor of his senior yearbook, and began to compose his first stories. In 1937 Salinger briefly attended New York University, then traveled to Europe where he studied the importing business in Vienna while continuing to write. Returning to the United States after the German invasion of Austria in 1938, Salinger briefly attended Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, leaving after only a single, unhappy semester. In 1939 he enrolled in an evening writing class taught by Whit Burnett, editor of Story magazine and an influential literary mentor, at Columbia University.
SECTION TWO: PASSAGE ONE SUMMARY AND COMMENTARY
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye has been written in a subjective style from the point of view of its main character, Holden Caulfield, as the story follows his thoughts. The novel concerns issues like growing up, alienation as a way of protection, sexuality, rebellion, exploration, etc. All are things typical for a teenager. But there are also kind of episodes where nothing significant is happening, like the one where Holden sits in a chair in his bedroom or rather dorm and the one where he is looking at a table, and then, probably a discussion about life will emerge. And indeed, life is surely very difficult if you are a teenager and this is the time when one discovers him or herself. But to explore this area a teenage being alone is even harder. And in life there are certain factors which are very supportive, meaning family and religion. But the Salinger`s book I see none of these. As Holden lives really isolated form his parents, away from religion or friends. Their obligation is mainly to pay for the various boarding schools he attends. Holden’s parenting comes mostly from these boarding schools. Holden even feared returning home or was ambivalent about seeing his parents. When he did return home to visit his sister, Phoebe, he avoided his parents as much as possible.
“It was a helluva lot easier getting out of the house than in, for some reason. For one thing, I didn’t give much of a damn anymore if they...