Catcher in the Rye - how Salinger brings Holden's character to life

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                                                   Catcher in the Rye


The Catcher in the Rye is a story set in the 1940s in the USA. The story is mainly based in New York City, Holden’s home town, though there are parts of the story that are not set in New York. In this assignment I’m mainly going to discuss three events based in the book and look in detail at the language that the narrator J.D. Salinger has used to make it look like Holden is telling the story to the reader. The author, J.D. Salinger, has also used the first person pronoun “I” throughout the entire story, although Salinger has written the book it feels like Holden has written it, this helps to bring Holden’s character alive. He also uses what is known as ‘direct address’ at the beginning of the story. This is where the narrator uses the pronunciation ‘you’ this makes the reader feel that they are being “spoken” to personally. I’m also going to look at the way Holden’s attitude, thoughts and themes are structured and the style used in doing so.

The first event I’m going to discuss is Holden’s conversation with Phoebe in her bedroom. This is where Holden creeps into his own house in order to see Phoebe. Holden creeps into her room in the middle of the night when his parents are not there, when Phoebe wakes up she hugs Holden, because she did not expect him to come so early. Salinger then talks a few pages about them having conversation, here Phoebe obviously very clever for her age (10), instantly becomes aware of that Holden has been excluded from Pencey. Holden does not realise that he has been already exposed by Phoebe of how immature he is (This is where Phoebe makes Holden look younger than her). After that despite, Holden’s assurances she keeps on repeating “Daddy’s going to kill you”. She was very upset with Holden of what he had done and refused to speak to him for a while because of what he had done, this is when Holden decided to leave the room and went to look for some cigarettes.

             After he returns in the room Phoebe is still unhappy with Holden, and she asks him why he flunked out again. Holden again is unsure how to respond and blames his academic problems on the phony teachers he had to put on with, and criticises every body and calls them all “phony”. After all the conversation Phoebe then challenges Holden to name something that he likes about anything in this world or anything around him and to my surprise, he cannot name anything not even one. He then he goes on to talk about “Catcher in the Rye”.

One of Holden’s most important dreams is when he fantasises about being the catcher in the rye.

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When Phoebe is questioning Holden about what he likes, Holden thinks that the only thing he would really like to be is be “The Catcher in the Rye.”  In this fantasy he is standing on the edge of a cliff watching thousands of little kids playing games in the field of rye. He is the only adult anywhere and he has given himself the responsibility of catching all the kids if they start to fall over the cliff.

Holden is dreaming about how he wants to catch all of the children from falling off the cliff which is ...

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