The Catcher in the Rye: First Person Narration Is Critical

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The Catcher In the Rye: First Person Narration is Critical

In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, the first person narration is critical in helping the reader to know and understand the main character, Holden Caulfield. Holden, in his narration, relates a flashback of a significant period of his life, three days and nights on his own in New York City. Through his narration, Holden discloses to the reader his innermost thoughts and feelings. He thus provides the reader not only with information of what occurred, but also how he felt about what happened.

Holden's thoughts and ideas reveal many of his character traits. One late Saturday night, four days before the beginning of school vacation, Holden is alone, bored and restless, wondering what to do. He decides to leave Pencey, his school, at once and travels to New York by train. He decides that, once in New York, he will stay in a cheap motel until Wednesday, when he is to return home. His plan shows the reader how very impetuous he is and how he acts on a whim. He is unrealistic, thinking that he has a foolproof plan, even though the extent of his plans are to "take a room in a hotel.., and just take it easy till Wednesday."

Holden's excessive thoughts on death are not typical of most adolescents. His near obsession with death might come from having experienced two deaths in his early life. He constantly dwells on Allie, his brother's, death. From Holden's thoughts, it is obvious that he loves and misses Allie. In order to hold on to his brother and to minimize the pain of his loss, Holden brings Allie's baseball mitt along with him where ever he goes. The mitt has additional meaning and significance for Holden because Allie had written poetry, which Holden reads, on the baseball mitt. Holden's preoccupation with death can be seen in his contemplation of a dead classmate, James Castle. It tells the reader something about Holden that he lends his turtleneck sweater to this classmate,...
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