Critical Analysis of the Catcher in the Rye

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A Critical Analysis of The Catcher in the Rye 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. A great deal of the irony in Salinger’s novel arises from Holden’s attitude towards adulthood. He spends most of the novel explaining why adults have ruined his life and yearning to be an innocent child again, yet he himself shows signs of acting and feeling like an adult. The first ironic sequence therefore comes into play when Holden arrives in New York: “He tries to use the partial appearance of adulthood to his advantage, for example by standing up to show the [bartender] his grey hair” (Gesler 407). This scene shows that in some respects Holden wishes to be an adult, and to enjoy the perks that come with age, but his ideal lifestyle would be that of a child. Children are pure in Holden’s eyes and haven’t succumbed to the darkness that is society. But this isn’t the last time Holden tries to act old; he also invites a prostitute to his room at his hotel. Sunny, the prostitute, arrives and tries to come on to him her so that she can get the job done, but Holden refuses. He can’t have sex with this random woman because "Holden 's kind of clear-thinking reacts against sex without love, against unclean


Cited: Gesler, Wilbert M. "Reconsidering the Concept of Therapeutic Landscapes in J D Salinger 's "The Catcher in the Rye"" Area 36.4 (2004): 407. JSTOR. Web. 6 Nov. 2012. Moore, Robert P. "The World of Holden." The English Journal 54.3 (1965): 162. JSTOR. Web. 6 Nov. 2012. Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown, 1951. Print. Trowbridge, Clinton W. "The Symbolic Structure of "The Catcher in the Rye"" The Sewanee Review 74.3 (1966): 685-86. JSTOR. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.

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