English II PAP- 3
12 March 2012
The Catcher in the Rye: Salinger v. Caulfield
During World War II and the post war era after, many peoples’ lives went down paths that lead their sanity to meander, just like that of J.D. Salinger. Salinger grew up as a very bright child, yet his work effort lacked great stamina which caused him to flunk average school, requiring a military academy. Once Salinger reached adulthood, he became lost in his paranoid thoughts and secluded himself away from the rest of society. In his novel The Catcher in the Rye, critics believe that Salinger portrays his post-war self through the character Holden Caulfield, yet because of Salinger’s solitary ways, none know for sure. Because of the extremely obscene language, rebellion towards the adult world, and apparent mental health issues, Holden Caulfield exemplifies the life of J.D. Salinger.
Jerome David Salinger, born January 1, 1919 of father Sal Salinger, a successful Jewish meat importer, and mother Miria Jillrich Salinger, an Irish immigrant, lived with a very bright yet rebellious disposition (Garrett 201). Salinger’s history remained hidden from public eyes, for when interviewers pressed for information on his childhood, “he has been known to spread rumors: he was a goalie for the Montreal hockey team” (201). Salinger attended a private preparatory school in Manhattan called McBurney. At the end of his first year at this school, he flunked out. His father, very concerned for his son’s education, enrolled Salinger in Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania (202). “One of his classmates remembered crawling through the fence with him after lights out to poach local beer taps” (202). After Salinger graduated the military academy in 1936, he attended New York University, Ursivus College, and Columbia University (Nassa 389). Salinger’s writing career took off in 1939 by writing short stories in Whit Burnett’s writing group at Columbia University. Burnett remembered Salinger as “a quiet student who made no comments and was primarily interested in playwriting” (Garrett 204).
Once Salinger finished his education, he dove head first into the real world. Following his career of writing in college, he worked as an entertainer on the Swedish Liner, M.S. Kungsholen throughout 1941 in the Caribbean. After his tour on the Kungsholen, Salinger enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942. He served in Europe during World War II, throughout most of the war, and became a staff sergeant. By the end of the war, he received five battle stars (Nassa 389). Salinger’s early publishing began during war time through magazines like The New Yorker”. When he returned to America, he discovered that his name developed greatly as a well-known, up-and-coming author. His celebrity burdened him since the aftershocks of war maimed his ability to cope with such fame. In 1951, Salinger published his first and only novel The Catcher in the Rye. Four years after the publication of the controversial novel, the puissance of the limelight pushed Salinger to flee from Manhattan to a modest, hilltop cottage in Cornish (Sater Internet).
Despite the popular belief that he married a French physician and divorced in 1947, Salinger married 19-year-old Claire Douglas on February 17, 1959 and they raised two children together: Margaret and Matthew, only to divorce by 1967 (Garrett 201). During his marriage, his interactions with others decreased amazingly: I thought what I’d do was, I’d pretend I was one of those dear mutes. That way I wouldn’t have to have any ***dam stupid useless conversations with anybody. If anybody wanted to tell me something, they’d have to write it on a piece of paper and shove it over to me. They’d get bored as hell doing that after a while and then I’d be through with having conversation for the rest of my life. Everybody’d think I was just a poor dear mute bastard and they’d leave me alone. (Sater Internet) Once he...