Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger is a novel about a young teenage boy’s troubles and his path of self-discovery in the modern world. It received so much critical acclaim because the tone, mood, and diction of the story were very different than those of the stories the people of that time were used to reading. The diction of the story was colloquial, and included foul language, and slang. The author did this, so that you can feel with the main character Holden, and feel apathetic towards him, because while reading this book you recall the times you felt the way Holden felt. It is worded in such a way that you think you know Holden, because he talks, acts, and feels just the way you and your acquaintances do. It is written in such a personal way to attract the reader’s attention in order to familiarize the reader with the problems we face today. Sometimes while reading old fashioned books that have a rather complicated word choice, you find yourself confused and the meaning of the story is totally lost on you. But while reading The Catcher in the Rye, you understand the story, because you are familiar with the dialect used in the story, and you are interested. “Willya do that? I hope you enjoy your stay in New York. It’s a grand place.” In this quote, slang is exhibited, and you are interested to read on, because slang creates a real effect. The author also uses a technique in which the main character is talking to the reader. This technique makes you feel like you’re part of the story. “She’s all right. You’d like her. The only trouble is, she’s a little too affectionate sometimes.” The author’s words were carefully chosen in order for the reader to fully recognize the tone of the story.

The main tones of the story are anger, hostility, criticism, and frustration. The author creates a teenage boy in order to show his own personal feelings of hostility and anger towards the world we live in today. Holden is critical of every little thing. He is frustrated with his life, so he goes on a path of self-discovery in which he couldn’t find himself. He is angry at the world. He’s angry that his brother is dead, he’s angry that he goes from school to school like an unwanted dog. “Well, I hate it. Boy, do I hate it,’ I said. ‘But it isn’t just that. It’s everything. I hate living in New York and all. Taxicabs, and Madison Avenue buses, with the drivers and all always yelling at you to get out at the rear door, and being introduced to phony guys that call the Lunts angels, and going up and down elevators when you just want to go outside, and guys fitting your pants all the time at the Brooks, and people always..“. The use of foul language in the novel, reflects the feelings of hostility and anger towards the world.

The overall mood of the story was depressing. While reading it, I felt bad for Holden. My heart filled with sympathy with every page. The tone and the diction contributed to this overall feeling of depression. For instance, the use of foul language is a negative thing, and makes you look at the world negatively. Also, the tones of the story are mainly negative feelings, which also contribute to this overall feeling of depression. While reading Holden’s harsh criticism of our world, you can’t help but feel bad and depressed that someone who you’ve gotten to know feels this bad about the world that you live in. You feel depressed, and then start noticing the fine details in life that Holden notices. “It’s full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about the girls and liquor and sex all day, and every body sticks together in these goddam cliques.” Holden’s views on our conformist world, makes you feel depressed and shocked at the same time, that someone can hate the world he lives in that much.
Samar Al Ansari 10.3
Oct. 3, ‘03

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