In the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger, violence is used to develop the main character, Holden. To convey a sarcastic tone and to refer to the theme, which is the protection of innocence, throughout the book. Salinger’s use of violence in the novel helps the reader understand Holden’s thought process.
Violence is used to expose some of Holden’s main characteristics including his need for attention, his sensitivity and last but not least, his ability to care. Holden would be classified as an attention seeker. Ackley states “ ‘Jesus!’ he said. ‘ What the hell happened to you?’ He meant all the blood and all.” (Salinger 46). Holden’s face is covered in blood, after having gotten into a physical fight with Stradlater, Holden’s reaction is not what is expected of him, he is rather fascinated with the blood. Having blood on his face does not phase him but it worries Ackley, which in turn leads the reader to believe that Holden is an attention seeker, and wants someone to worry and be concerned about him. Close to the middle of the book, with Salinger’s use of violence, Holden’s sensitive side is shown. Holden states “ All of a sudden I started to cry.” (Salinger 103). After having spent the night with Sunny, the prostitute. Holden gets a surprise visitor in the morning, Maurice accompanied by Sunny. Maurice demands that Holden pays him the extra five dollars, the price they had allegedly discussed. Holden refuses, Sunny takes five dollars from Holden’s wallet, and he breaks down in tears. For something so small, Holden sheds his tears, revealing his sensitive side. Salinger’s use of violence proves that Holden is able to care. Holden states “ What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window.” ( Salinger 104). After having met Maurice and Sunny, Holden feels like ending his life, but he chooses not to, because he knows he is needed and wants to fulfill his dream. His dream is revealed later on in the novel, he...
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