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The Catcher in the Rye Essay

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English 3201 January 4, 2006 The Catcher in the Rye Essay Serena Lambe In the 1994 Washington Post critical review "J.D, Salinger's Holden Caulfield, Aging Gracelessly," Jonathon Yardley asserts that The Catcher in the Rye is "an essential document of American adolescence," and that there can be "no question about its popularity and influence." Although this book has been heavily criticised and condemned over the years for being "obscene," having an "excess of vulgar language, sexual scenes, and things concerning moral issues," it is now accepted as a classic piece of literature. The experiences of Holden Caulfield in this novel still resonate with teenagers of today, causing it to be a popular choice of reading material in high schools. Teenagers can relate to Holden's difficulties with growing up and his feelings of lonliness. Furthermore, most teens use their own slang and profanities during conversations and many have to deal with temptations such as alcohol and tobacco. Because of the timeless themes that relate to any typical teenager, this book has endured many years and will continue to do so for a long time. The difficulties which Holden faces due to growing up are universal among all teenagers. As teens get older, they are approaching the adult world and have to start facing the responsibilities and situations which are associated with this new phase of their lives. ...read more.


For example, his rude and intrusive behaviour during his encounter with Carl Luce ruins what could have been a pleasant meeting. Furthermore, his date with Sally is ruined by his harsh reaction to her speaking with her friend. He makes out that the situation is horrible because the Ivy League student is so "phony," when most people would just try to become part of the conversation. As he says to Mr. Spencer at the beginning of the novel, he feels trapped on "the other side" of life. He continually attempts to find his way in a world in which he feels he does not belong because he is "different." He does not seem to relate to others well, not finding "pop culture" as important as others, which could be a result of the trauma he suffered as a child. When his brother Allie died, he lost his best friend. Others whom he meets have not had this same type of experience and do not relate to how it changed him. He even contemplates suicide in the book, which is a common occurrence among teenagers. Many teenagers who read this novel can relate to his feelings of loneliness. There are many pressures in our society to act as those portrayed in pop culture. ...read more.


Holden is also an avid chain smoker. It seems that every chance he gets, he is lighting up yet another cigarette. Smoking is an adult activity, and Holden smokes to be more of an adult. Even though he comments that the cigarettes taste bad, he still smokes them. He smokes to ease his nerves and simply because he has become addicted to the substance. Smoking is a big problem faced by teens in all generations. Many smoke to rebel against their parents or because, like alcohol, it is viewed sometimes as the "cool" thing to do. A large portion of today's teens smoke although they are aware of the dangers. Smoking and drinking are bad habits, but teenagers of every day and age are faced with these temptations. With these similarities to today's youth, Holden Caulfield truly resembles the typical teen. Many teenagers will read this book and enjoy it because they feel they can relate to the experiences that Holden has, as well as the pressures that he faces in his life. This novel is accepted as a classic piece of literature purely because it conveys the true mindset of many youth, at the time when it was written, and today. Holden's constant frank and honest observations throughout the novel have always captivated youth readers and will continue to captivate them as this novel endures as a classic for many years to come. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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