The Catcher In The Rye / J.D. Salinger Book Report

1324 words - 5 pages

Preface -This book has been steeped in controversy since it was banned in America after it's firstpublication. John Lennon's assassin, Mark Chapman, asked the former beatle to sign a copy ofthe book earlier in the morning of the day that he murdered Lennon. Police found the book inhis possession upon apprehending the psychologically disturbed Chapman. However, the bookitself contains nothing that could be attributed with leading Chapman to act as he did - it couldhave been any book that he was reading the day he decided to kill John Lennon - and as aresult of the fact that it was 'The Catcher In The Rye', a book describing nervous breakdown,media speculated widely about the possible connection. This gave the book even morenotoriety. So what is 'The Catcher In The Rye' actually about ?Superficially the story of a young man's expulsion from yet another school, 'The Catcher InThe Rye' is in fact a perceptive study of one individual's understanding of his human condition.Holden Caulfield, a teenager growing up in 1950s New York, has been expelled school forpoor achievement once again. In an attempt to deal with this he leaves school a few days priorto the end of term, and goes to New York to 'take a vacation' before returning to his parents'inevitable wrath.Told as a monologue, the book describes Holden's thoughts and activities over these fewdays, during which he describes a developing nervous breakdown, symptomised by his bouts ofunexplained depression, impulsive spending and generally odd, erratic behaviour, prior to hiseventual nervous collapse.However, during his psychological battle, life continues on around Holden as it always had,with the majority of people ignoring the 'madman stuff' that is happening to him - until it beginsto encroach on their well defined social codes. Progressively through the novel we arechallenged to think about society's attitude to the human condition - does society have an'ostrich in the sand' mentality, a deliberate ignorance of the emptiness that can characterizehuman existence? And if so, when Caulfield begins to probe and investigate his own sense ofemptiness and isolation, before finally declaring that the world is full of 'phonies' with each oneput out for their own phony gain, is Holden actually the one who is going insane, or is it societywhich has lost it's mind for failing to see the hopelessness of their own lives?Holden's Personality -There are 3 main aspects in Holden's personality :1. His criticism toward the 'phony' things in society.2. His perception that laws (Rules) are 'child's play' for the strong and a difficult struggle forthe weak.3. Respect for fellowman.The criticism toward 'phony' things in society is expressed in the novel primarily by the word'phony'. Holden is a representative of the world of childhood whose characteristics are theopposite values to those Holden calls 'phony'.One of the things Holden often calls 'phony' is the world of movies and everything about it.Examples of it are...

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