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"The Catcher In The Rye" is a novel that has always attracted controversy.

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Introduction

"The Catcher In The Rye" is a novel that has always attracted controversy. When J.D. Salinger's novel, "The Catcher In The Rye" was first published in 1951, it caused a storm in both the literary world, due to its unusual content and style, and the American social scene. In a list of the most controversial books ever written, it is claimed that, "this immediate best seller almost simultaneously became a popular target of censorship" (1) and that it was banned due to its "profanity, reference to suicide, vulgarity, disrespect, and anti-Christian sentiments" (1) . The main aspects of this novel which make it controversial are; the language and style Salinger chooses to use, the comment he makes on 1950's capitalist America, Holden's state of mental health, Holden's opinions on sexuality and treatment of women, his relationships with children and his portrayal as a Christ-like figure. Many of these issues are still controversial today and more recent events, such as the assassination of John Lennon in 1980 by a man carrying a copy of the novel and wearing the red hunting hat that Holden talks about in the book, have only served to attract further controversy to "The Catcher In The Rye". ...read more.

Middle

and "I almost wished I was dead" (3) were extremely controversial statements. Literature critic, G Cartwright, said, "Holden has a hard time dealing with everyday life, and feels that everyone around him is a "phony". His own mind working against himself caused him to have internal problems and turn against himself. His internal conflict also led to his seclusion from the outside world. He became introverted and could no longer cope with life" (6) when he was asked to explain why Holden became depressed. Salinger himself was suffering from depression once he returned from serving in the war and perhaps this was his motivation for including this in the novel. The fact that a citizen of the new, prosperous America could feel suicidal was unheard of and open discussion of mental illness was definitely not encouraged. Holden says "Goddam money. It always ends up making you feel blue as hell." (3) The suggestion that his depression could be in any way connected to the money is family has was certainly controversial at that time. Throughout the novel, there are numerous instances when Holden talks about women. ...read more.

Conclusion

(3) This statement shows that Holden simply respects "good" people and is not even a Christian, let alone someone who is trying to be a Christ-like figure. Yet the interpretation of Holden as a Christ-like character still remains and still adds to the controversy surrounding the novel. In conclusion, some critics argue that "The Catcher In The Rye" is "too vulgar, immoral, and immature to be considered serious literature" (7) like Robert Bonnet said. However, other critics, including Eric Lomazoff, claim that "Salinger's concerns represented an entire generation of American youth, frustrated by the phoniness of the world." (8) Regardless of which stance is taken, the novel remains the most frequently censored book across the America and the second-most frequently taught novel in public high schools which provokes the conclusion that the book has and will continue to attract controversy but that the some of the issues dealt with and comments made are important and credible enough to be discussed by high school students. Today's society is very different from the society in America when "The Catcher In The Rye" was published, therefore the level of controversy it attracts will also be different. ...read more.

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