An exploration of the literary devices used by JD Salinger in the “Catcher in The Rye” to communicate the theme of growing up and how relevant this idea is in the 21st century.
One of the dominant themes in the “Catcher in the Rye”, by JD Salinger, is growing up and how difficult it is. The author communicates this theme through various literary devices, including: characterisation, symbolism and a key incident. The idea Salinger creates is very identifiable to most readers, despite their life experiences being very different to Holden's. Moreover, even though the novel is set in the 1940's and is a contrast to contemporary society, the reader can still find things to identify with, because Salinger uses such a timeless idea.
The “Catcher in the Rye” is centred around three days of the life of the main protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who is 16 when the novel begins. The novel is set in post-war New York in the 1940's. The story is narrated by Holden who has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Holden tells the story of how he leaves Pencey Prep - a school in which he was expelled from for failing four out of five classes - and spends a few nights alone in New York.
Salinger uses effective characterisation to explore how Holden finds growing up painful and difficult. Holden is frightened of maturing because of his interpretation of the adult word and so he detaches himself from all adults. He refers to all adults as “phonies”, this is because he generalises all adults, thinking they must all be hypocritical and false. Salinger uses Holden's physical appearance to emphasise his emotional side, “I'm six-foot-two-and-a-half and I have grey hair.” He seems to be old, physically, but inside he is still just a child, this reinforces the idea that his body is telling him to grow up, but his mind is telling him to resist, and stay as innocent as possible for as long as possible. Salinger even uses his name to show his