Catcher in the Rye by Jerome David Salinger is a story where Holden Caulfield, the speaker and hero of the tale, commences the narrating at his previous boarding school, Pencey Prep, in Agerstown. The bulk of the story later on takes place in New York City through Christmas. The substantial setting of the story is rather significant, because it exemplifies Holden´s solitude in New York. As a whole, this novel is developed like a recollection of Holden’s thoughts that ultimately culminated in his story. Literary elements of the novel also present themselves in harmony with the storyline. This allows J.D. Salinger to provide readers with an array of messages that are firmly presented through his use of both literary and rhetorical devices.
The novel kicks off by establishing Holden Caulfield, a 16 year old boy, as having dropped out of 3 schools already and on the verge of flunking his fourth, Pency Prep. He comes across as a very gloomy, dejected boy. “Catcher in the Rye”, written in slang, derived its title from Robert Burns’ line from a song. Holden Caulfied misquotes this line while laundering himself as a “catcher in the rye,” who is tasked with preventing the world's kids from losing their innocence.
Holden expresses everything as being phony and relentlessly searches for authenticity. He is a symbolization of an early hero of adolescent anguish, but filled with life. There are messages such as: teen depression, the coming of age/adulthood, loneliness, life as what you make it, self-endurance and the pains of growing up through adolescence. These points are given across the book from Salinger’s literary devices such as perspective and plot, and rhetorical devices like imagery. The effect these devices give involves attracting the audience’s attention and appealing to the idea of “man versus world,” a common idea used to portray a heroic character. In turn, the perspective and imagery strengthen the plot’s presence and the messages in it.
The theme of teen depression is evident through the protagonist. Holden Caulfield suffers from depression and vividly has trouble dealing with his life. He is depressed because of his letdown in school and life, his solitude, and also due to the demise of his sibling, Allie. As he narrates the story more, it becomes clearer that he suffers from depression. This idea concludes itself through the symptoms manifested in him such as his constant isolation from society, lowered self-esteem, and constant chatter about the traumatic events in his life that create suicidal thoughts.
Another theme brought out is the trouble of growing up a teenager, coupled with loneliness, as epitomized by the main character. Holden narrates of his passage through a delicate stage in his life, lonesome and frantic for relationships. He thinks as if everyone loathes him and he fears the notion of growing up and turning out to be a phony himself. He is also terrified of death, chiefly because of the incident with his small brother,...