The Effect of J.D Salinger’s Writings
Jerome David Salinger, born on January 1, 1919, was an American short story writer and novelist. Salinger is considered one of the most influential 20th century writer’s despite having a very shallow body of work. Early in his career, Salinger wrote many short stories that made it into big publications such as Story Magazine, Collier’s, and even The Saturday Evening Post. Some of these short stories, A Perfect Day for a Bananafish and Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut, later were included in Salinger’s short story collection titled Nine Stories in 1953. Nine Stories was one of four books that Salinger published, coming before Franny and Zooey in 1961 and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters in 1963. Although these books all had their own successes, it was Salinger’s first book and only novel, the Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951 that propelled Salinger to a “level of unrivaled literary fame” (Salerno 2). The Catcher in the Rye, which sold more than 120 million copies to date, is widely considered as one of the best novels of the 20th century. This very controversial novel has had a profound effect on our culture and the American public because it had challenged conservative values of the 1950s, drawn a lot of attention to censorship, and it gave people a character to relate too.
At the time when the Catcher in the Rye was published, the story it told was unlike any other. It took you through the mind of the young protagonist Holden Caulfield. Caulfield was an immature teenager who, in the beginning of the novel, was expelled from Pencey Prep because he failed every class except English. It is also revealed to us that Pencey Prep was not the first school that Holden flunked out of. So right of the bat, Holden was not someone who would be considered a role model. He was a young rebellious teen who would smoke and swear and was without any life goals whatsoever. However, Caulfield’s actions throughout the book, though still not the behavior that should be expressed by teenager, wasn’t what shocked many people the most about this novel. It was the insight into the mind of a typical teenager that was so astonishing to people. Hearing the profane and sexually nature thoughts going through Caulfield’s head was enough to make people’s jaws drop. Throughout the story, there are “224 instances where obscene language” (Jones 1) has been used in the book. Using this type of language was unheard of. Unlike in today’s world, were obscene language is used in our television shows, movies, and music, it was very rare and unacceptable to use this type of vulgar language in the 1950s. The use of this language by Salinger really challenged what was acceptable to publish and sell to the American public. Never before has a book spoke about the vulgar thoughts going through such a young person’s head. This cause many parents to panic and to prevent their children from picking up this title.
This outrage by parents, caused by Salinger’s novel’s challenging of the social norms of the 1950s, lead to many trying to censor this book. Even though critics and reviewers saw this book as a brilliant and inspiring novel that represented everything that is real and lively out there, it was widely disapproved of and often banned from use in school. From 1961 all the way to 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in libraries and high schools across the United States. The thought of using such a vulgar and inappropriate book in the classrooms caused many parents to complain to their school boards. Some people were angered so much that they would protest this book by burning all the copies they could get their hands on. In one instance in 1960, an 11th grade English teacher was fired for assigning this novel to his class. As you can tell, this book was considered very controversial and has been at the center of the censorship debate in our country for years and still is today. The Catcher in the Rye...
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