How important are settings in The Catcher in the Rye?

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Question: May 2006

How important are settings in The Catcher in the Rye?

-Choose two settings.

-write about:

-how the settings are presented.

-why they are important.

The bildungsroman, The Catcher in the Rye could be considered as one of J.D Salinger’s most famous novel of all time. The novel was highly controversial when first published. In fact, it was actually censored in numerous American high schools, to such an extent that some professors lost their jobs because of teaching it. The protagonist in the novel, Holden Caulfield could be considered as an epitome of teenagers. The settings used in the novel by Salinger are highly important in depicting the behaviour of Holden towards others, but most importantly showing his level of mental state.

Two settings which are particularly significant in the novel include Holden’s encounter with Phoebe in chapter 22 (where he informs her of his ambition to be the ‘catcher in the rye). Moreover, another setting which signifies importance is Mr Antolini’s abode, where Holden goes to seek shelter and advice towards the end of the novel in chapter 24.

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In chapter 22, on being asked by Phoebe on what he wishes to do in the future, Holden informs her that he wishes to be the ‘catcher in the rye’. He tells her of the poem ‘if a body catch a body comin’ through the rye’. Phoebe corrects him instantly that the word was not ‘catch’ but ‘meet’ in the poem. It must be added that the original poem by Robert Burns is regarding a young girl having a sexual encounter in a field of rye, and in the poem it questions the permissibility of casual sexual intercourse. Holden’s ...

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