Catcher in the Rye

Topics: Profanity, The Catcher in the Rye, Adolescence Pages: 7 (2807 words) Published: September 28, 2005
Most often among the vast array of novels published today, there is usually a very insignificant amount of books that can have a truly heart-clenching plot. The classic novel The Catcher in the Rye is a prime example of a book filled to the brim with emotion. There aren't many books that can truly make a reader feel changed after reading them, but The Catcher in the Rye is different. Through symbolic representations and use of language, by the protagonist Holden, in the classic novel J.D Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, the story exemplifies an American teen's hardships and triumphs while growing up. Holden Caulfield, the main character of the story expresses a unique teenage language. Holden's personal idiosyncrasies and loose phrases are what make him such an original person yet, such a recognizable teenager. "There are two major speech habits which are Holden's own, which are endlessly repeated throughout the book, and which are, nevertheless, typical enough of teenage speech so that Holden can be both typical and individual in his use of them "( Costello, Holden's 83). These speech patterns which Holden uses are "and all" and "I really did", they are two small phrases that help readers characterize who Holden truly is. The first phrase "and all" is used throughout the book and gives a feeling of looseness to his own personal thoughts. This shows that there is more to the story than Holden is telling us but he doesn't want to discuss it. A good example of this is from the first page of the book when Holden is talking about his early years and he says "…How my parents were occupied and all before they had me. " (1). The uniqueness of it is that Holden also uses the same "and all" for no apparent reason, such as on page one when he states "…He's my brother and all" (1). The other idiosyncrasy Holden uses is "It really is" or "It really did." Holden's most fluent use of this is for when he needs to make verification about anything. "In a phony world Holden feels compelled to reinforce his sincerity and truthfulness constantly with, "It really is" or "It really did." Hirko, 2 (Costello, Holden's 84). Another phrase in alignment with "It really is" is probably Holden's most recognizable phrase which is "If you want to know the truth". A prime example of this from the book would be when Holden said "I'm a pacifist, if you want to know the truth." (46). The thing about him saying he is a pacifist is unique considering that was right after he got into a fight with his room mate. Holden's speech is very typical, but at points can be very advanced.

"Another aspect in which Holden's language is typical is that it shows the general American characteristic of adaptability—apparently strengthened by his teenage lack of restraint. It is very easy for Holden to turn nouns into adjectives, with the simple addition of y" (Costello, Holden's 87). Two examples of this are when Holden turns the nouns show-off and Christmas to "show-offy" and "Christmasy". This shows Holden truly being a laid back normal teenager, who Holden likes to speak and use his vocabulary on different levels. An example of Holden speaking to an adult would be him saying "relieve himself" but; Holden speaking to another teenager would be more like "to take a leak". The fact that he speaks differently around different people shows Holden being more mature when he is alone rather than when he is around other kids. This proves that Holden wants to allow himself to fit in with other teenagers. "Such a conscious choice of words seems to indicate that Salinger, in his attempt to create a realistic character in Holden, wanted to make him aware of his speech, as, indeed a real teenager would be when communicating to the outside world" (Costello, Holden's 87)...
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