Catcher in the Rye Essay
The Catcher in the Rye by. J.D. Salinger is regarded as one of the greatest novel in American literature. Told through the perspective of a teenage boy, Holden Caulfield, the novel explores youth rebellion and angst in a society where straying from the norm would be considered a heresy. Numerous literary techniques are employed by Salinger such as point of view, juxtaposition, and omission to show the changes that ceased to occur in society and how it affected someone’s thought process.
J.D. Salinger uses his main character point of view of an angsty, rebellious teenager to convey the divide between the superficiality of society and the humanity of a child. During the 1940s and 50s, the power that adults held over children was exercised in a way that left children with no choice. This imbalance of power is shown through using Holden’s point of view to tell the story, leaving no thoughts or opinions barred as adults tend to do as a means of filtering their thoughts so that only what is appropriate is said. Holden has to boundaries when it comes to refining his thoughts to please someone else, even going as far as to reveal that he’s “not at all glad” (87) to have met someone despite him always saying that he is. Holden Caulfield is a teenager with a multitude of problems, whether they be constant suicidal thoughts or being “the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life”(16). Through his view, the reader is able to see his outlook on life and his critique of all that he perceives to be “phony”. Salinger is pointing to the evasiveness of adults when it comes to avoiding taboo subjects sprinkled through the novel such as mental health and suicide and adult incompetency to deal with such matters.
Through Holden, J.D. Salinger intends to highlight the injustices of society as shown through the black and white nature in which he perceives things in. In Holden’s thought process there is no gray area, in which a situation can be placed, everything is either right or wrong. Salinger displays his brilliance in the juxtaposition of two events in order to display contradictions and foils. For example, at one point he places Holden's account of children to be genuine whereas stage actors “never act like people” (126) to display the authenticity of one versus the falseness of the other. Holden's criticism of society is brutally honest as his adolescent mind faces everything from child prostitutes to nuns. The placement of Sunny, a prostitute about Holden’s age, and her innocence compared to the nuns and their interest in Romeo and Juliet shows Holden’s compassion towards women in completely different positions. In the novel,...