In many works of fiction, the life experiences and views of the authors are often reflected in their work creating captivating novels. Jerome David Salinger or J.D Salinger as he is better known became one of the most interesting authors in American literature, along with his famed character Holden Caulfield from the famous novel Catcher in the Rye published on July 16, 1951 (French 16). Like many authors, J.D. Salinger incorporated main parts of his autobiography into the life of his novel’s main character, Holden. Soon after publication the novel was highly acclaimed by people all over the world paving the way for its continued fame today (Bloom 10). James Miller Jr. said that “No other writer since World War II has achieved the heights of popularity of J.D Salinger. And his popularity has rested primarily on one hero, Holden Caulfield, and one book, Catcher in the Rye” (Miller 5). It is no surprise that with reviews like this Salinger would slowly make his entrance into the spotlight; however, Salinger feared being in the public eye as a celebrity (Bloom 10). As a result, he went into isolation in New Hampshire where little was seen or heard from him thereafter (Bloom 10). With all the documents, and different accounts of his life from people who knew Salinger, the world can now see that the mysterious life of one of the most famous authors in American literature is not so mysterious after all. The portrait of Holden Caufield was painted by J.D. Salinger using his major life experiences of his home and schooling and his views on religion, war, love, and life. As a result, Holden is portrayed as an inherently good adolescent boy full of innocence and rebellion, wary of societal faults and filled with reluctance to enter into an adult world. Born on January 1, 1919, in New York City to Sol and Miriam Salinger Jerome David Salinger was raised his Jewish father and a Irish Catholic mother (French 21). At the age of eleven he was enrolled in an upscale Manhattan preparatory school called the McBurney School in Manhattan (5). However, he failed out after one year (22). In September of 1934 Salinger was enrolled in Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania and graduated two years later (22). In the beginning of Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, a young adolescent, attends Pency Prep in Pennsylvania after having failed out of three other schools. He receives a letter that tells him he has failed four out of his five classes and will be expelled (Salinger; Chapter 6). Holden’s school experience is reflective of Salinger’s and builds a foundation for Holden’s struggle with growing up that is a continuing theme throughout the novel.
As Salinger entered his teenage years, he learned of a family secret that would shake his faith in organized religion. As mentioned earlier Salinger’s father was Jewish while his mother was Irish Catholic (French 21). When Salinger was growing up, he believed that both his mother and his father were Jewish (Mori). After his bar mitzvah, a confirming of boys in the Jewish faith, Salinger discovered that his mother was in fact a Catholic. He was furious that the truth was kept from his for all those years (Mori). Because a lie was linked to religion during Salinger’s adolescence, a very impressionable time in a young person’s life, he developed a dislike for organized religion. In Catcher in the Rye Salinger’s view of religion is given to Holden. For example, in the novel Holden meets two Catholic nuns in a sandwich shop, and he starts to talk with them. Holden says he does not like organized religion, but he talks with them a little longer, and winds up making them take ten dollars as a charitable contribution. This gesture shows that although Holden may not believe in organized religion, he is a good person who does what is right. When Holden does this in the novel it all lines up with the events in Salinger’s life as a child. After his mother lied to him about her...
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