English III - Period 2
An Analytical Biography
The Catcher in the Rye
Jonathan Baumbach, “The Saint as a Young Man: A reappraisal of The Catcher in
the Rye,” in Modern
Language Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4, December, 1964, pp. 461-72
Critic Jonathan Baumbach explores the significance of innocence in J.D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. He claims that the novel is not only about innocence, but actively for innocence-as if retaining one’s childness were an existing possibility. Not only that, but he states that Holden wishes to be a saint: the protector and savior of innocence by preventing them from falling into the cruel adult world of corruption and fickleness. Although he also wants someone to prevent his own fall since he is in fact still a child himself. Baumbach states that this is Holden’s paradox, saying that he must shed his own innocence to protect innocence. These statements are what send Holden off into the three day soul-searching quest that dooms Holden to sinking into insanity in our novel. The critic opens with a rather descriptive insight about how others view and critique Salinger’s first and only novel, as well as pointing some of the flaws that Catcher has: “The novel is sentimental; it loads the deck for Holden and against the adult world, the small but corrupt group that Holden encounters is not representative enough to permit Salinger his inclusive judgments about the species.” Baumbach claims that Holden does not have enough information to comment on the phoniness of humanity as a whole based on his observations of only a select few. As the critic investigates further, he makes a few interesting points. Some of which regard Mr. Antolini: Holden’s former English teacher. Baumbach claims that Antolini’s kindness to Holden is triggered by a homosexual interest that he has in the protagonist. Pointing out the flaws in his teachers marriage, as well as ambiguous actions that he had done while with...
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