The Catcher in the Rye

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The process of growing may be challenging and painful for some individuals, especially when they experience alienation as a form of protecting their innocence and contempt towards the perceived phoniness of the adult world. The opening extract from J.D Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ (1951) is very significant in relation of the novel. This novel, renowned for its didactic nature also voices the opinions and struggles of many young American teens in the post – modern World War II period. Salinger utilizes the unique character of Holden and his struggles in the chaotic multifaceted world to portray how alienation can be used as protection, the painfulness of growing up and the phoniness of the adult world. Due to the fear of transitioning into adulthood under the pressure of the multidimensional society, some individuals may protectively alienate themselves. The opening extract significantly defines the distinctive character of Holden; the protagonist whose narrative voice in the novel progressively uncovers the feelings of exclusion in the homogeneous world as he makes a transition from childhood to adulthood. Holden is an exaggerated example of American teen’s mental outlook towards the changing American society. Holden’s desperate desire for human contact and love is sometimes undermined by his strong need to protect himself from rejection. This is expressed through the juxtaposition of thought and action as he expresses “I felt like giving someone a buzz….[but] I ended up not calling anybody”. The progression of the novel uncovers that Holden’s isolation is seen as a form of proving that he is above all the ‘fakeness’ of the homogeneous society. This is symbolized through his ‘red hunting hat’, highlighting his individuality and uniqueness. Throughout this seminal novel the audience is exposed to Holden’s emotions and idiosyncrasies that are a reflection of his exclusion from the world around him. This is indicated through his metaphorical feeling of being...
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