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The Catcher In The Rye Essay

1880 words - 8 pages

This paper proposes to delineate the characteristics of Holden Caulfield, the adolescent protagonist hero of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and illuminate the reasons as to why this prototype of brooding adolescence, displaying a rather uber-cool style of disaffection, disenchantment and disillusionment became an indispensable figure of interest, in literary circles as well as popular culture. The paper seeks to take issue with the wider dimensions attached to the ‘incapacitation and debilitation’ Holden is often accused of and address Salinger’s vision behind etching Caulfield precisely the way he is. The paper also wishes to foreground the socio-political implications that reverberate within the rubric of the novel, Holden’s characterization and his abhorrence at the ‘phoniness’ that surrounds him- an aspect of the novel that has oft been overlooked by critics, reviewers and commentators alike in their attempt to mete out an avalanche of critical inquiries into the overarching framework of timeless, transcendent morality, which manages to escape the roots of context that bred it. Also, an important aim of the paper is to collate critical attention on Caulfield into a cogent effort to place him in his rightful position as a remarkable hero of literary merit, akin to the oft-discussed analogies and comparisons of him with Huck Finn, David Copperfield, Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, Peter Pan, Natty Bumppo, Quentin Compson and the like. Towards the end of such a gargantuan herculean feat that the paper intends to accomplish, it wishes to evince Christopher Parker’s claim: “Caulfield, the individual is far more human than those of us on the outside asking him if he’s going to apply himself or not.”
Ever since its arrival on the literary scene in the 1950’s, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye has continued to enjoy immense popularity in academic and critical circles alike. Though the amount of literature that has spawned forth its reception has seen its fair share of crests and troughs, the impact of the book has been huge. The appeal of Salinger’s succinct plot that takes the readers on the picaresque journey his protagonist takes from his school to his home in New York is astonishing. The sales figures of the book evince the case of its popularity. Needless to point out, the immense popularity of The Catcher in the Rye can be attributed to Salinger’s ingenious creation- Holden Caulfield. Holden Caulfield is the primary reason of the novel’s sustained readership.
Anyone even remotely familiar with the text can point out that the protagonist who uses ‘crazy’ verbatim and mentions the cognates of that word over fifty times, has been alleged to be a misanthropist, a human “who dislikes everything.” Christopher Parker contends, “Holden likes the only things really worth liking…because he is sincere and he won’t settle for less.” Several critics in the recent past have concurred with Parker’s line of thought. They have dismissed the...

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