Catcher In The Rye: A Literary Analysis

Powerful Essays
Similar observations are made by academic writer and author Sarah Graham in her book entitled Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. In this book, Graham addresses a variety of reading techniques, themes, and comparisons/contrasts in regards to Salinger’s most popular novel, but she specifically addresses the main theme of Holden’s attempt to escape the phony 1950’s materialistic focused society surrounding him. Graham begins her take on this theme of escaping society with a chapter on Holden’s rebellion: “Developing the theme of rebellion, Holden’s visit to Mr. Spencer confirms that he is opposed to the conventional ideas that school and society encourage in order to promote stability” (34). During this visit to Mr. Spencer’s house that Graham …show more content…
He sees adults and friends who succumb to these norms, and he outwardly looks down upon them and call them phonies of society. As an author, J.D. Salinger created Holden Caulfield as a character to challenge the expected norms of this time period, and as a whole, the novel addresses the challenge of accepting societal norms and diverging from norms to create a different lifestyle. For Holden, although many other reasons attribute to his refusal to accept society, he mainly believes that the 1950’s American Dream culture valuing marriage, family and education is not one that he wishes to be associated with. It is also crucial to note that by the end of the novel, Holden ends up in a mental institution, the location from which he narrates Catcher in the Rye. This element of the novel is crucial to our understanding of Holden as a character; he seems to have rejected the values and views of the post-war era so intensely, he is literally unable to function and has been …show more content…
The 1950’s released many plays and playwrights that would be remembered and studied for years to come, but Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night specifically addressed the theme of rebelling against traditional American norms in a very interesting way. O’Neill, born on October 16, 1888, was one of the most admired playwrights of all time. His talent and love for writing provocative and moving plays such as Long Day’s Journey Into Night directly represent many of the trials and tribulations he faced in his own upbringing. He was the son of Mary Ellen O’Neill and James O'Neill, a stage actor whose career got cut short due to having children; a haunting similarity to James Tyrone’s character in Long Day’s Journey Into Night (bio.com). According to O’Neill’s online biography, “after Eugene was born, his mother developed an addiction to morphine. She had been given the drug to help her through her particularly difficult childbirth. Ella was also still grieving for Eugene's older brother, Edmund, who had died of the measles three years earlier” (bio.com). Obviously, O’Neill took inspiration from his own troubled life of growing into a troubled family in the early 20th century, and created a play that would later become world renowned for its challenging story line and enticing

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Better Essays

    In 1951, JD Salinger published a novel titled The Catcher in the Rye. Between the years of 1945 and 1951, Salinger had changed his concept of the misfit hero from a pathetically misunderstood protagonist who seemed doomed to a less than average life, to a protagonist who has learned to surpass the morons and show them compassion through somewhat condescending gestures. The latter is the present day Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye. Holden presents himself as a mature young man, but the theme of phoniness and preservation of innocence against the fake world of adults run strong throughout Salinger’s novel.…

    • 1087 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Catcher In The Rye Themes

    • 686 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Holden Caulfield is a character that has some resistance in things that are natural and some in society. The theme of the book is about growing up and the observation of it in the surroundings. The society of New York in Catcher in the Rye is full of phonies and other people. Holden constantly resists the unchangeable future of growing up. Salinger developed the society of New York and Holden who realizes the event of growing up and tries his hardest to resist…

    • 686 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Salinger demonstrates that Holden’s refusal to grow up and his individualistic attitude towards life, proves to be directly against the uniform society and established institutions during the 1950’s. In addition to Holden’s adversity with a mental illness, prep school social hierarchy, strict teachers and a city of corruption and decay, Holden is seen as an anti-hero. Due to interactions with other characters, Salinger paints the reader an unflattering picture of postwar America while showing how different social institutions follow one mainstream value. In all the 1950’s gave way to the counter-cultural movement that flourished in the 1960, making Catcher in the Rye the begin of the snowball…

    • 1231 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    *********************The Catcher In The Rye has been renowned as a classic due to a wide range of factors which have been able to garner appeal to the audience throughout the ages. JD Salinger has created a character- Holden Caulfield, which the audience can easily identify and relate to, demonstrated via his wandering style of thought and retelling of events in the book. Similarly, Holdens popular culture and social commentary reveals much of the human condition, which the audience throughout time could relate to, particularly of the universal theme of growing up in an adult world. Thus, it is through Holden which the audience can follow his physical and mental journey through a conservative 1950s society which he constantly rejects and rebels against.…

    • 2172 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Holden Caulfield is J.D. Salinger’s main character in The Catcher in the Rye. We learn several interesting things about Holden, however, while learning the these we are not experiencing or seeing what Holden is. We learn about it through Holden’s perspective throughout the entire story like, for example, the death of his younger brother, Allie or the time James Castle committed suicide by jumping out of the school window. Most of these experiences have a significant meaning behind them and we find these out by reading the book. We get to know Holden in a personal way. While reading, comprehending, and understanding Holden’s emotions towards the encounters he has with the characters in this book, which makes it very interesting.…

    • 122 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Throughout J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, the main character, Holden Caulfield, was always very isolated and lonely. Holden was always feeling that he did not belong with society because he just did not fit in. He felt that everyone…

    • 927 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Catcher in the Rye

    • 1433 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Holden, like each of us, faces living in a world he did not create. While he may reject much of the dominant culture, he is also clearly affected by it. What faults of the larger society does Holden exhibit? How does Salinger reveal these faults to the reader?…

    • 1433 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    The Catcher in the Rye is a novel written by J.D Salinger. The Catcher in the Rye is a very complexed novel that can be interpreted in various ways. The book possesses various themes; having symbols and motifs affiliated within them. There are countless places, people and things in the novel that one could protest as a symbol and or motif. Some considerable themes within the novel : the idea of growing up, the lost of innocence, loneliness, and intimacy. These are evident themes within the text. The idea of growing up ; Holden refuses to welcome the actuality of himself maturing and his change of state, becoming an adult. Symbols that manifest this idea is Holden’s dream of becoming the ‘ the catcher in the rye’, running away from his…

    • 215 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    The novel The Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger, involves a teenager named Holden Caulfield that swings between childhood and adulthood constantly. Salinger portrays Caulfield as an adolescent that goes through different levels of depression, which is what American youth were facing during the time period it was written. Critic Maxwell Geismer states the book protest “against both the academic and social conformity of its time period, but what does it argue for?” The book argues that society needs to consider their attitude toward the human condition. All humans reach a certain age that seems like they are facing the entire world by themselves. This suggests a new way to behave and see the world which may lead to the improvement of society. Salinger was communicating to his readers that the world of childhood and adulthood are not distant; the situations that occurred during the development forms the society that works today. Throughout his novel Salinger uses different literary devices, such as imagery, symbols, and allegory, to demonstrate the changes Holden goes through.…

    • 1183 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Better Essays

    Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D Salinger, is a novel, based around 48-72 hours of an adolescent boy’s life, a boy called Holden Caulfield. The 48-72 hours are fraught with difficulties that Holden faces or acknowledges and he spends this time attempting to find the answer to his problems. The difficulties that plague teenage Holden include Holden’s transition into adulthood, understanding sex and his sexuality and trying to find an emotive relationship, one that is not based upon sex but one that he truly can enjoy. Holden’s main response to these difficulties is by being deceitful and dishonest relying on false worlds to alleviate the pressures of his difficulties.…

    • 1347 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Holden Caulfield, a cynical and paradoxical teenager not ready to embrace adulthood goes on a journey to explore the phoniness of the adult world. J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye published in 1951 reflects on Holden as a child as well as an adult. His neglection of adulthood and his blindness on the innocence of youth presents a great challenge in his life. The bulk of the novel displays Holden, a 16 year old teenager who just flunked out of Pencey Prep fleeing to his hometown, New York City in hope of staying at a hotel for a few days before revealing his expulsion to his parents. Throughout his stay, Holden has unusual encounters with past colleagues, his former neighbor, his sister Phoebe, and his old teachers. From these encounters, Holden acquires different perspectives on life and adulthood.…

    • 815 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The genuine joy Holden gets from watching Phoebe is a striking image of his fantasies of innocence and his collapsing psyche. For a moment Holden sees the joy that he envisions all the children of his rye field are like. Within Phoebe’s happiness Holden is transfixed and distraught, because the sudden realization that he is transitioning to a world he does not feel equipped for triggers the end of his ambivalence. As the carousel spins so does Holden’s reality, he loses sense of even further sense of himself. The Catcher in the Rye is a bildungsroman, but it is unique in how Holden not only resists growing up, but also he ends the novel more unstable and lost than he started off as. A quest or journey is supposed to lead to a literal or metaphorical…

    • 481 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is put through the harsh reality that is life. Holden is kicked out of school and must make his way back to New York to tell his parents the upsetting news, but he first spends a few days finding himself along the way in the Big Apple. He spends these days thinking and seeing first-hand what the adult world is like, consistently reinforcing his belief that the real world is fake. His hatred for people in general is only bested by his hate for those whom he considers to be phonies, which is just about everyone he meets throughout the novel. Salinger uses strong irony, complex characterization, and a specific setting to display Holden Caulfield’s strong hatred towards people that are phonies and prove that no one is immune to the phoniness.…

    • 2035 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Better Essays

    The novel The Catcher in the Rye written by J.D Salinger is one of the most discussed novels in American literature. The Catcher in the Rye is J.D Salinger 's landmark novel, it set a new course for literature in post-WWII America and vaulted him to the heights of literary fame. The book mostly focuses on the period of time when a young teenage boy named Holden Caulfield gets expelled from his high school and how he sees, feels things and people around him. J.D Salinger shows Holden as a 16-year-old boy lose to adult hood and having trouble with accepting society and struggling with many issues in the daily life. Holden is an individual in earlier American society, who is non-conformable and does not choose to cooperate with society, however still very human because he is low self-esteem when he calls himself words like moron, madman or weak, but Holden is sincere and kind when he desires to be a protector of innocent for young children.…

    • 1169 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    In the novel The Catcher and the Rye by J.D Salinger, Holden expresses his hate for the idea of growing up and becoming an adult, as he sees the majority of adults as phonies. Along with that, he regards the process as taking away your innocence and freedom. With his view of adulthood, he hates the idea of children having to go through what he did and losing their innocence. He often praises children, placing them as superior to adults.…

    • 743 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays