“The Catcher in the Rye” is a novel

J. D. Salinger’s book “The Catcher in the Rye” was published in 1951. This particular story was written for adults; however, due to the extremely important issues posed, the story became very common with adolescents aged 14 to 18 years. Holden Caulfield is an example of a young rebel for all readers. Adolescence is one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. As a result, “following” Caulfield’s life was very fascinating for teens all around the world. This story has a difficult theme; it is riddled with abstract metaphors and intricate motifs, and the entire story is infused with both humor and sorrow. The author includes joyful moments, when narrating the story, but interrupts it with sad ones all of a sudden. The subtle psychologism in depicting the inner world of the protagonist and Caulfield’s attitude towards all other characters made the novel “Catcher in the Rye” a real masterpiece.

The names of most of the heroes are significant, and they have a hidden meaning in fact. It allows the readers to understand the characters better and not to underrate them, when getting to know each of them. Each character has his or her “mission” in the novel. Since the story was written about adolescents, various issues concerning the teenage life were raised, including the duality of perception of one’s sexuality (Helenius 22). The main ones are: innocence, solitude and isolation, sexuality, wisdom and knowledge. The issue of innocence will be discussed in this paper. Due to the tough age, many teenagers strive for trying “adult” relationship very early and, for this reason, there is a stereotype that the modern youth is absolutely licentious, and none of teens have any moral principles. However, it is not about the main character of the novel. This person should be really morally strong not to give up on his convictions and not to get under a bad influence.

Undoubtedly, the issue of sexual confusion was also raised in the novel. It is okay for people to care about sex, since it is one the main parts of any person’s life. Adolescents care about not less. However, it is a rare case, when a teen stands against “the system” by having a different outlook. This guy is romantic, while most of boys of his age are not. He respects girls and always listens to what they say. However, when some girl tells him to stop, he perceives it like she wants the opposite and that is why rejects. Nonetheless, they guy considers his careful behavior as something bad and underrates himself. Unfortunately, that is the modern reality. Teens think that there is something wrong with them, if they do not want to sleep around, consume a lot of alcohol and do other things:

“Most guys at Pencey just talked about having sexual intercourse with girls all the time – like Ackley, for instance – but old Stradlater really did it. I was personally acquainted with at least two girls he gave the time to. That’s the truth. (Ch. 7, Paragraph 32).

Holden decided to go have sex with a prostitute, but later this idea was abandoned:

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jim Steele,” I said.

“Ya got a watch on ya?” she said. She didn’t care what the hell my name was, naturally.

“Hey, how old are you, anyways?”

“Me? Twenty-two.”

“Like fun you are.”

It was a funny thing to say. It sounded like a real kid. You’d think a prostitute and all would say “Like hell you are” or “Cut the crap” instead of “Like fun you are.” (Chaper 13, Paragraph 30-35).

His surrounding influenced a lot: Carl Luce at the Wicker Bar made the guy think that he needs psychoanalysis, since he has some “issues” with being intimate with a girl. This fact would make the readers wonder why a teen shares such private information with other teens. Additionally, Holden was concerned about homosexual men. He considered homoerotic behavior as something “pervert”, trying to make himself not think about it. However, the biggest fear of this guy was homosexual intentions of his teacher, Mr. Antolini, when he escaped home. The author did not explain much what kind of intensions that man had and he was touching Holden, when he was sleeping.

This novel has different interpretations. Depending on people’s perception, they can make different conclusions after reading and even fantasize about Holden’s further life. Holden himself is a non-standard teenager; he is too vulnerable and incredibly conflicting. Nonetheless, he does not fit into society at all. He does not have any clear plans for the future; he would only like to catch children over the precipice in the rye. The nature of children’s consciousness, their purity, integrity and truth, these are everything that Holden; such a maximalist, who opposes to the standards of the society. Holden himself is still largely a child, despite his tall stature, gray hair and a “cool” habit of smoking. He subconsciously does not want to grow up, and this is also a kind of protest against the reality that imposes certain patterns of behavior on him, nags him with surrogates and scares the prospect of a new world war.

Holden might not seem innocent, but it is so. He is weird, on the one hand, but thoughtful, on the other hand. Innocence is related to idealism and an unwillingness to accept the reality. Holden’s perception has more in common with naivety than with innocence. Holden cannot stand his innocence, since it harms him and people disappoint him all the time. The guy is not mature not in terms of being prepared for having sex, but in terms of being prepared for seeing and accepting all flaws of this society. His story is the confession of a man, who cannot and does not want to change the world, but he is only able to see with such sincerity, so to show this world, that he is disgusted. The rebelliousness of Holden is reminiscent of the movement of a person in a dream: convulsive attempts to escape, strike and the total inability to do something, a sense of bitterness and impotence.

Salinger paid much of his attention to children, he wrote a lot about them. They have not been spoiled licentious back then. Literally on every wall they are awaited by a very real obscene inscription, and Holden cannot, although passionately desire, erase these inscriptions. He could note fight against the world that is disgusting to him. He is fragile and weak. He himself is part of the world that denies. His hands are connected not only with his involvement, not only with his personal weakness, but also with the understanding or rather the sensation that before him are not isolated mucks but a sea of ​​disasters. Even though there was nobody to explain to Holden, how right he was and how important it is to adhere to own convictions, he almost failed to live “his” life.

Works Cited

Helenius, E. “Socialization, Sexuality, and Innocence in the Catcher in the Rye.” Tampere University, 2014.

Salinger, J.D. “The Catcher in the Rye”. Little, Brown and Company, 1991.

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