The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a controversial book from many aspects. There was a public uproar when it was primarily released in 1951, mainly due to the profanity and sexual exploitation within. Salinger was able to construct the text in a unique manner, writing from the perspective of a highly critical, lonely and depressed 17 year old boy, Holden Caulfield, who recounts an incident which occurred one year ago. Holden was expelled from Pencey Prep, a rich and well known prep school with a good reputation. He dropped out due to academic failure but claimed that “he could’ve done the work, he just chose not to apply himself.” Holden decided to give his parents time to digest the news so they wouldn’t be overwhelmingly furious with him, and the few days which he had to squander resulted in some of the most life-changing experiences of his life as he realized many things he hadn’t been aware of previously.
The narrative perspective is a critical component of the text. It explores the protagonist’s (Holden’s) many narrow-minded views on the world around him. He frequently affirms that the world is filled with hypocrisy and “phoniness“. Holden narrates in a cynical and skeptical manner and could almost be described as narcissistic at times, despite the fact that he may be perceived as intelligent and sensitive in some ways. His attitude remains contemptuous and derisive throughout the progress of the book, suggesting that although he has had many significant experiences, his views on insincerity in society have not altered.
Holden is often quick to judge and stereotype when labeling hypocrites and phonies. For example, he professes to despise cinema for its representation of phoniness, but at times makes thoughtful comments on movies which he had seen. Holden could be considered an unreliable narrator as the details and events of his story are distorted by his opinionated point of view and his desire for wild exaggeration exacerbates this notably. Holden is very judgmental of others around him and quick to criticize the decisions they make, only to exhibit similar faults himself at some point in time. Nevertheless, I believe that the unique and somewhat arrogant view of the protagonist is an imperative component of the text which makes it stand out from many others.
Throughout the course of the novel, the author often uses Holden’s narration to personally discuss his relationship with his siblings. Undoubtedly, the death of Holden’s beloved brother Allie had a staggering influence on him. Although the incident does not occur throughout Holden’s 3 day journey (it happened when he was 13), he makes constant reference to it and the impact it has on him in the present. Even though Allie was younger than Holden, the author was able to depict that Holden adored and looked up to Allie in many ways. Allie’s death was most likely the major cause of Holden’s depression, frequent feeling of loneliness and bitter perspective on...