The Catcher in the Rye – Analysis and Summary
Name of the book: The Catcher in the Rye
Writer: J. D. Salinger.
His complete name is Jerome David Salinger, and he was born the first day of 1919 in Manhattan, New York. He started writing early in secondary school, and he had published several stories before getting interrupted by the Second World War in 1940. In 1951 he published his most successful, and only, novel The Catcher in the Rye that became an immediate success among its readers. After the success with The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger started to publish stories less frequently. He wrote three short stories; “Nine Stories” (1953), “Franny and Zooey” (1961), and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction” (1963). He published his last work in 1965, called "Hapworth 16, 1924"
Holden Caulfield, who is the narrator and protagonist of the story, begins the narrating in Agerstown, Pennsylvania, at his former boarding school Pencey Prep. The majority of the story later takes place in New York City during Christmas, shortly after the Second World War somewhere between 1940 and 1950. In the story you get to follow Holden through various famous landmarks throughout New York City, such as Central Park, Grand Central Station and Greenwich Village. The physical setting of the story is somewhat important, since it illustrates Holden´s loneliness in such a big city as New York. The whole story is narrated through the main characters point of view in terms with the past, since Holden tells it as a monologue from a mental institution in the future. The whole novel is built up like a flashback of Holden’s last Christmas that eventually led to his mental breakdown.
“I´ll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy.”
The narrative point of view influences the tone of the story in the way that it seems very effortless, unstrained and humorous, even though there probably lies a great deal of labor behind the sentences. You understand a lot more than the book says, and I think you can compare it with Hemingway’s style of writing. To fully understand the meaning of the book you get to think and analyze a lot by yourself.
Holden Caulfield, who is the narrator and protagonist of the story, is an adolescent who is caught in the middle of adulthood and childhood, and he acts as if he is mature even though is incredibly immature. He is tall and skinny, and has prematurely graying hair. He is the middle child in a working class family in New York City and he is constantly moving from boarding school to boarding school since he keeps getting expelled for failing his classes. Holden is very suspicious and has an extremely cynical view of everyone, particularly of women and people older than him.
Phoebe Caulfield is Holden´s younger sister. She is very mature and intelligent for her age, and one of the few characters in the story that Holden is treating with respect and honesty. Phoebe probably represents childhood and innocence to Holden, and when he is describing her talents or her intelligence, Holden uses no signs of irony like he does with almost all the other characters in the story.
Allie Caulfield is Holden´s younger brother, born two years after him. He died of leukemia when they were young; therefore Holden is seeing him as a symbol of childhood innocence. The night that Allie died, Holden broke all of the windows in their garage with his bare hands. Allies death did considerable damage in Holden´s psyche and his death is still a major issue in his life, and played a big part in Holden´s mental breakdown.
Ward Stradlater is Holden´s roommate at his former boarding school Pencey Prep. Ward is very conceited and arrogant, but still friendly to Holden. For example, Ward is showing of his body build by walking around in the room undressed, and when Holden keeps...
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