The Catcher in the Rye

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Falling into a Mold

Over the years, authors have scoured deep within themselves in order to find some kind of meaning that they can write about. They carefully weave together words and symbols lining up in perfect paragraphs, chapter by chapter, creating a story that most readers often overlook. In the eyes of the readers, it is just a story like one told around a campfire or at a party in order to give people a good time. They think of it as something to laugh at or something to cry at, and more often than not they remember the main character’s name instead of the actual author’s. The point is authors write each word to represent something much bigger than itself, and literary symbols go deeper than simple readers could ever imagine. J.D. Salinger was no different when writing his book that achieved so much fame during the 1900’s, and every character written about has a deeper meaning in and of itself. Salinger weaves the main character in with other supporting ones, comparing and contrasting until each point he intended to make was able to make it down on paper in a way that readers need to dig deeper to understand. Salinger places his main character in a sea of people, carefully magnifying one person to stand out among the rest in order to make the point he intended to make when deciding to dive into the book in the first place. In The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger writes Holden Caulfield as a character that is struggling with the fear of becoming what Ward Stradlater represents through his shameless ability to repress women, hide his poor hygienic habits, and look upon himself in an egotistical manner.

First, Salinger’s technique of making Stradlater represent a womanizing and repressive character strikes fear deep into his protagonist which essentially invokes him to act the way that he does. By writing the characters the way that he did, making three completely different teenage boys live at an arms-length proximity to one another, Salinger takes the reigns in order to show just how prone humans are to falling into stereotypes. Although it seems as though he makes Holden Caulfield weak in a way, looking deeper into the thoughts of the character make the reader realize just how strong-willed Salinger’s protagonist is. It is apparent just how against Holden is towards Stradlater’s way of treating women when he says: “when you can kid the pants off a girl when the opportunity arises, but’s a funny thing. The girls I like the best are the ones I never feel much like kidding. Sometimes I think they’d like it if you kidded them-- in fact, I know they would-- but it’s hard to get started, once you’ve known them a pretty long time and never kidded them” (Salinger 37). Although on the surface it seems as though Holden may be talking about regular everyday high school romance, truly looking into the way he believes is the proper way to treat a girl compared to the way his roommate actually treats them proves just how different of a person he is. By putting these two characters, who are very much on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to personality, Salinger can thoroughly convey the differences of opinions, and how truly complex and different his protagonist is compared to the stereotypical high school kid. Once again, Salinger dives head first into a matter that seems to be an important topic in every teenage situation: romance. However, when it comes to Jane Gallagher and Holden Caulfield, the situation once again proves to be different than any other stereotypical one during the high school years. He writes Stradlater in as the romantic date for a girl that seems to belong with his main character. By doing so, he begins to have Holden exemplify just how jealous and strongly he feels about this girl and the way his roommate treats her. He is seen truly worrying about Ward Stradlater’s intentions with Jane when his roommate rudely says: “She only signed out for nine-thirty, for...
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