Catcher in the Rye
Focus Question – How is identity highlighted in the book The Catcher in the Rye?
Identity is personal attributes and characteristics that contribute to an individual’s personality and sense of self. In the book The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger has deeply explored the concept of identity in the main character Holden Caulfield. Through the use of jargon, symbols, themes and motifs, J.D. Salinger highlights how Holden is shown to be struggling with his own identity and sense of self.
To begin with, Holden uses jargon commonly throughout the novel to show his identity through the way he uses language. As the book is set in the 1950s, the use of expletives was frowned upon and Salinger has explored this concept. Holden commonly uses the word ‘Goddam’. It illustrates his brutal honesty and outlook on the world. As it was appalling to use profanity but Holden constantly did, shows that Holden’s identity is made up of a rebellious characteristic that doesn’t fit into society, resembling an outcast that is frowned upon.
As part of Holden’s jargon, qualifiers are used commonly. Holden uses qualifiers to emphasise his uncertainty and insecurity about his knowledge, and trying to confirm to the reader that he is correct. On page 3 of the novel Holden uses qualifiers to show his intended thoughts and opinions on Pencey Prep – “The more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has – I’m not kidding.” The qualifier of “I’m not kidding” shows that Holden is dubious about his accusation, and showing the reader that he is opinionated in his outlook on the world, which contributes to his overall identity.
The symbolism by Salinger used throughout the novel, shows a deeper meaning in the way Holden looks out on the world. A major reoccurring symbol throughout the novel is the red hunting hat. This hat acts as a medium through which Holden demonstrated his individuality. The hat, which he describes as one with “very, very long peaks”