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The novel " The Catcher in the Rye " written by J. D. Salinger is one of the most outstanding novels of its time.

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Introduction

The novel " The ?atcher in the Rye " written by J. D. Salinger is one of the most outstanding novels of its time. For American literature of that time it is characteristic to conceal the most important things and that's why this period is called " the silent fifties ". So when " The Catcher in the Rye " was published it was rather liberal and truthful in comparison with other literal works. That is why a lot of critics accused J. D. Salinger of being light-minded, of showing disrespect to social norms and to society itself, though many of them admitted it to be sincere, honest and natural. But at the same time there were a lot of writers who approved of this novel and Salinger's bravery, saying that he showed the world things it was supposed to see a long time ago. Having seen all these mental break downs of one single teenager American society considered itself as being unsuccessful. Salinger's informal, conversational style of writing makes the book extremely entertaining and readable. Throughout the book there are little asides and observations that are humorous and thought provoking. Salinger is a natural story teller and the reader is drawn along by perpetual tales of Holden's past and his thoughts on human nature. Salinger's style is very simple. ...read more.

Middle

People that surround him do not wish to know about these ducks or chess, saying to Holden that there are much more important things in life. Of course partly it is true but only partly: showing the indifference of Holden's conversationalists to ducks Salinger takes into consideration the wider situation. The whole society is aggressive to everything that is rather reasonable. Holden constantly desires to be doing something, he can't keep still but all his attempts to be active and " alive" have no results. It seems as if all that he wants to do is impossible or unreal. He goes with a fencing team to New York and leaves the equipment on the subway and by this action he upsets his mates. He says good bye to his ex-friends shouting " good night, morons " but at the same time nearly falls down and breaks his neck. Holden writes an essay for Stradlater on the wrong topic and then being upset with his ungrateful attitude, tears it into small pieces. He buys Phoebe her favourite disk but accidentely breaks it and hands her only the splinters. And that's the way he is. Only in his dreams is Holden the master of his situation. Only deep down in his soul is he brave enough to give short shrift to old Maurice, to catch children in the rye, to have a good relationship with a stomach-turning society. ...read more.

Conclusion

But his to deal with adulthood and the people around him shows him to be immature. Some interesting questions arise from reading the book. Firstly, I wonder how revolutionary or shocking the novel appeared to the early 50's American public when it first came out in 1951. Holden's laziness, his depressive character, lack of ambition and weariness with life must have seemed shocking to post-war America. That society was confident and optimistic in the post-war years and reading about a teenager such as Holden with his whole life ahead of him but with such little hope or interest in the future must have been hard to swallow. Secondly, the whole tone of the book is informal. The use of a first person narrative means using informal language, slang and swearing. Expressions such as " beat it" instead of go, " it killed me" meaning I loved it, " stuff", " babe", " flitty" are all street language which must have seemed unconventional for a novel of 1551. In addition Holden swears a lot. So, was it acceptable at that time for a novel to use such words as " son of a bitch", " Jesus Christ" and " Goddam" ? Thirdly, is the novel autobiographical? When reading the book, I often wondered about Salinger's life and if he was drawing from his own experiences. The character of Holden is so well portrayed that it seems difficult to believe that there isn't something of the author in Holden, is there? 1 1 ...read more.

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