English Catcher in the Rye essay

Topics: Want, Need, Mind Pages: 3 (1103 words) Published: October 16, 2014

With reference to pages 218-223, analyse Salinger’s use of language and structure, exploring Holden’s contradictory views.

Salinger uses language and structure to give he reader an insight of Holden’s views of the world, which tend to be both positive and negative. The genre of the novel is Bildungsroman,1 which involves several situations that shape the character; and so in this novel, we read his attempts to finding his identity as he goes from his adolescent years to being an adult. However, he does not change a lot throughout the novel, so this is contradictory. ‘Contradiction’ 2 is the term used when two principles are inconsistent or are clashing.  

At the beginning of the extract, Holden calls the two boys in the museum “hot shots.”3 This is because he sees them as ‘phoney’ for truanting school and then lying about there being “no school t’day.”4 He also then goes on to call one of the boys a “little bastard.”5 This reinforces his negative views of others. However, Holden was never a ‘perfect’ student either, yet does not mention his own misdoings with shame. Also, he could feel like an older brother to them as he says the boy was “…practically holding onto my sleeve.”6 This brotherly gesture could have reminded him of the way he and Allie used to be. This opposes his initial view of the boys, which shows he is unable to stick to one thought.  

There are several other instances in the novel where Holden contradicts himself, for example, his attitude towards isolation. Further on in the extract, Holden ends up being alone in a tomb; he claims that he “sort of liked it in a way.”7 This is stated concisely showing that he knows what he wants, however, yet again, towards the end of the extract, Holden contradicts himself as he shows that he would not want to be completely isolated and does not mind being visited by his parents as he says “I’d let them visit, as long as they’re not phoney.”8 He implies that everyone else is ‘phoney’9 but his parents....
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