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The Catcher in The Rye - How does Salinger present the character of Holden in the opening pages of the text?

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Introduction

´╗┐How does Salinger present the character of Holden in the opening pages of the text? Salinger uses a variety of linguistic and literary techniques to create a realistic voice for the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, and to give the reader an idea of how this is achieved and presents the major concerns and thoughts of the character and the novel through these techniques. Salinger attempts to create the voice of a contemporary teenager through writing in the vernacular of this intended voice - the use of crude, colloquial lexis that Holden uses resembles this through his repetitive and continuous use of ?phony? throughout the novel, for example ?what a phony slob he is.? The use of colloquial language, coupled with the protagonists conditional direct address to the reader ?If you really want to know?, is used by Salinger as an allusion to Holden being somewhat reluctant to telling us about himself and his past which leans the reader towards thinking that Holden is not well and that there may be something in his past which has caused Holden to be the way he is. ...read more.

Middle

An example of this would be Holden?s use of the adjective ?old? in ?old Selma Thurner? which he uses to convey friendly affection feelings towards the character. The protagonist also uses hyperbole to convey his emotions and thoughts, too, though generally in a much more sarcastic manner as illustrated by ?supposed to commit suicide if old Pencey didn?t win?. As noted above, the reader learns that Holden uses the adjective ?old? in a usually affectionate way, but in this instance he is using it sarcastically to convey a negative opinion toward his school. When the reader reads on, they learn that not only is Holden iconoclastically rejecting the education system but he is also rejecting the ideology of capitalism which he views as the main source of the ?phony? population. From this, the reader realises that not only is Holden a countercultural figure but also a cynic towards the capitalism ideology his society is based on. ...read more.

Conclusion

In addition, the audience also becomes aware that Holden?s strained relationships extend not only to the general public but to his own mother and father, too; ?my parents would have about two haemorrhages apiece? illustrates to the audience that Holden has little avenue for expressing his emotions which causes the reader to wonder what the cause of Holden?s introversion is, later revealed to be the death of his younger brother who he was close to, Allie. In addition, the reader becomes aware of the protagonists opinions and thoughts on certain topics and their views on people in particular through the constant digression of the main character; Holden uses digression in place of actively expressing himself and it is present throughout the entire novel. Through this digression, the reader gains a valuable insight into Holden?s mind, especially when family and women are concerned: ?she?s a pretty nice girl? reveals to the readers that Holden, despite being a teenager, is not interested in sex with girls despite his later claims to be a maniac, which illustrates an insecurity in Holden towards sex. ...read more.

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