The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger: IntroductionThe Catcher in the Rye is the only novel of JD Salinger, a short story writer. It was published in the year 1951 and it has become the true representative of the 1950s America. It was a world of economic development and social gratification.
Jerome David Salinger
The young, the blacks, and the women had little power, yet the voice of protest was muted. This is the same society in which Holden Caulfield lives. Holden is one of many rebels in the history of literature. This literature of protest against society often purposefully satirizes conventional values. Supporting for his generation, he vehemently criticizes at the phoniness of his world, but finds himself powerless of bringing any meaningful change. He cannot even connect with another individual. His nature is to cut and run. In a nutshell, The Catcher in the Rye anticipates the major mottos of the 1950s: alienation, the silent generation, the lonely crowd. However, the novel has been criticized for not dealing with specific social issues. But it is obvious that it caught the peculiar social malaise of the 1950s with remarkable accuracy.
The Catcher in the Rye caused significant debate when it was first published in 1951. The account of three bewildered days in the life of a disturbed teenage sixteen-year-old boy was an instantly a great hit. In two weeks after its publication, it was registered as number one on The New York Times best-seller list, and it stayed there for thirty weeks. The immensely popular of this novel remains for many years, especially among teenagers and young adults. It is because of its fresh, brash style and anti-social attitudes - typical traits of many people evolving from the physical and psychological disorder of adolescence.
Many parents take this novel as a curse because of its main character's offensive language, unreliable behavior, and disruptive attitudes. Numerous school and public libraries and bookstores did not want the book on their shelves. For them Holden simply was not a good role model for the youth of the 1950s. JD Salinger said himself, in a rare published comment, "I'm aware that many of my friends will be saddened and shocked, or shock-saddened, over some of the chapters in The Catcher in the Rye. Some of my best friends are children. In fact, all my best friends are children. It's almost unbearable for me to realize that my book will be kept on a shelf out of their reach." It became the forbidden fruit in the garden of literature.
The conflict between the individual and society is the most significant theme of this novel The Catcher in the Rye. Holden dislikes the phoniness of his world. He wants people to meet on a purely human basis, but this son of a wealthy man is delicate to the blockades erected between individuals and society of 1950s America. The hidden ambiguities in this novel is, if there is something wrong with the individual because of his inability to adjust to his society or is something wrong with a society that alienates such an individual? Should Holden choose between the extremes of conformity and dropping out, or is there a possibility of improving the society?
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The Catcher in the Rye
Jerome David Salinger, an American writer, authored the novel titled The Catcher in the Rye in the year 1951. Since its initial publication, the novel has become widely popular based on the number of sales and the number of languages it has been translated into. With total sales of over 65 million, translations into all major global languages, winning of major awards and global recognition its popularity cannot be ignored.
The plot of the story
The plot of the novel is anchored on the main character Holden Cufield who narrates his personal life experiences as if he is speaking loudly. The writer uses identity and belonging, authenticity versus artificiality, sexual confusion, teenage rebellion and alienation as the main themes. The themes are clearly brought about by the narrations of experiences as Holden undergoes physical, mental and emotional growth in his puberty. Holden narrates his life from the onset of notice of expulsion following his failure in exams and the intrigues surrounding the same. On leaving school, he narrates his sexual orientation recalling his interactions with his roommates and his initial sexual experiences with older females. His sister, Phoebe and his teacher Antolini are other main characters whose role in Holden's life contributes to his character identity.
The novel has been acclaimed and condemned in equal measure in its various reviews. The writer has been praised for the successful use of subjective writing style and its important lesson on the short life of alienation in adolescent stage. One the contrary, the novel has been criticized on its plot. First, it was challenged for not impacting any moral codes to readers. Also, it was condemned for its wide use of dirty language, repeated sexual inferences and attachment of socially rebuked behavior to paint the main character as a hero. On this point however, other writers believe that the same are common traits of rebellious teenagers; a common reflector of the youth. Others believe that there is just too much of the main character, Holden, who is so self centered that other characters wander in the plot of the story.
Awards, achievements and recognitions
The book, upon its publication became the top selling books according to New York Times list of best selling books. Since then, the book has however entered into the list of top ten most censored books. While some readers for example, George Bush, the former president of the U.S.A have found the book inspiring, others have referred the book as a motivator for homicides as documented in various files of shootings and assassinations.
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