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The Importance Of Censoring The Catcher In The Rye

1593 words - 7 pages

J.D. Salinger was an American author well known for his best seller The Catcher in the Rye, a considerably influential novel that portrayed the feelings of alienation that were experienced by adolescents in North America after World War II ("J.D. Salinger Biography"). Salinger’s work appeared in many magazines, including a series of short stories which inspired many new authors ("J.D. Salinger Biography"). His inspiration for Pencey Prep boarding school in The Catcher in the Rye stemmed from his own difficult education at a military school (Feeney). Salinger went through an emotional series of events after being drafted into the army during World War II, and it is evident that his story is very reflective of his own negative views of the world post-trauma (Feeney). The novel features a teenage boy who is kicked out of his prep school and, on the verge of a breakdown, kills time in New York City to avoid going home and facing his parents (Andrychuk). It earned strongly mixed reviews and a lot of negative feedback upon its publication, and was accused of “promoting immoral values” ("J.D. Salinger"). The narrator of the story, Holden Caulfield, has become one of the most iconic male characters of rebellion in history (Feeney). Consequently, The Catcher in the Rye is filled with characters that serve as bad role models, and the story’s explicit and inappropriate remarks can cause too much damage to leave it uncensored.
The Catcher in the Rye has been highly criticised for its profanity, lying, violence, and vulgarity, as well as mentions of suicide, drugs and alcohol. This was especially the case in the 1950s, when the majority of the American population held conservative beliefs, and the story strongly went against these beliefs (Reiff). The story was considered to be too open-minded for a society that was not very open to a teenager’s expression of their own opinions, especially not those of a fictional one, and many believed that the author was attempting to spread communism (Reiff). However, in present day, the book has also been called out for its mockery of religion, and has offended some religious groups in its use of phrases such as “goddam” and “hell” (Salinger 21). Its profanity has been declared in numerous states, as parents claim to be fearful that their children will be scarred by the events and foul language in the novel (Reiff). This fear has been elevated so much, in fact, that in the 1960s there were “teachers from Kentucky, Okla, Tulsa, and Louisville” that almost lost their jobs for assigning the novel to their classes. As a result of this, the book was prohibited in many school libraries (Dutra). Many people in North America also find the references to sexual acts and prostitution to be completely disturbing, and consider them to be pornographic and “encouraging of “premarital sex, homosexuality and perversion” (Reiff). This concern was much more prominent in the years leading up to the 1970s, when most of society was not open...

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