Catcher in the Rye

Catcher in the Rye Essay

It is often hard for a person to comprehend another person’s point of view.
Too often a bias prevents this person from really listening and understanding
the argument another person is trying to make. The novel, The Catcher in the
Rye, by J.D. Salinger, is a classic and infamous novel. This novel’s infamy is
due, in large part, to its protagonist’s use of slang and profanity throughout
the book. The slang and the profanity are not without reason though. To better
understand Holden, as a person, the reader to know him in a more personal way.
Holden must use the slang and the rather foul language that he does for the
novel to succeed as a powerful and truthful testimonial to all of the phoniness
in the world.

The only true personal glimpse that the reader has of Holden is when he uses
slang and cursing. Readers sense that he is laid back with his casual, sarcastic
“very big deal” (3), and passionate about his emotions “I wouldn’t visit
that sunuvabitch Morrow for all the dough in the world, even if I was desperate”
(58). The readers, although they may object to Holden’s use of slang, such as
corny, phony, and dopey, tend to relate better when they have a narrator and a
protaginst that can speak to everyone as though he is a real person, and not
just a character in a book.

Holden has such strong emotions that it would not be appropriate for him to
try and shove them all into simple phrases. Holden needs to yell his ideas out
with the feeling that he has, so that he can show all the readers know how he
feels inside. To Holden, goddamn is not just profanity; it represents all of the
frustration and anger that he is feeling for the world today. “Guys that talk
about how many miles to the gallon they get in their goddamn cars, the same guys
that get sore and childish as hell if you beat them at golf” (122). Swell, to
Holden, is the pinaccle of his compliments; as when he says, “The kid was
swell, he was walking in the street, instead of the sidewalk, but right next to
the curb” (115). This little boy is a rebel, just like Holden, and Holden
admires him. The whole novel is based on what Holden thinks about the world. His
damns, goddamns, and craps allow readers to be brought into a world of different
thoughts. This time the opinion will be carefully thought about and not
dismissed.

As a novel, The Catcher in the Rye is supposed to stir up people and make
them think. It would hardly be right to leave the reader not shaken up and
wondering a bit about his position as a phony. “I can just see the big phony
bastard telling us what a swell guy he was, what a hot shot he was and all”
(17). Holden Caulfield is here to tell everyone that he can be himself, and it
is not necessary for anyone to conform to the phony world today. “I didn’t
care, I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, I was damn near bawling, no one else
was that happy” (213). He does not care that no other guy in the world would
show such emotion, he is happy, and there is no way he is going to hide it. And
if he needs to become a bit inappropriate, although for the novel, it is very
appropriate, then so be it. The boy has a point and every reader should hear it.

Writing is supposed to evoke the deepest, most hidden emotions from its
readers. Without the sense of Holden’s real struggles and real, not phony,
antidote on life, the novel would fail miserably. Holden grabs the reader’s
attention with his way of talking and his attitude of life. The reader becomes
so engrossed with Holden and his comments on people, and the world in general,
that it is hard for one not to see exactly what Holden is trying to say.

Category: Book Reports