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A 2 pages term paper on Catcher In The Rye By J .D. Salinger

    Jerome David Salinger was half Jewish which a source of enormous conflict was for Salinger. His conflict being half Jewish and especially his traumatic experiences in World War II were negative aspects of his life which shaped his personality and his fiction. Catcher in the Rye was banned after the first publication in America. Catcher in the Rye has been controversial from its publication. The state of the main character that is Houlden Caufield is much criticized. Caulfield’s character may be real in his needs. However it is controversial that his deeds were self destructive and insane. His innocence leads him to destruction in the end.

    Caulfield's self-destruction over a period of days forces one to contemplate society's attitude toward the human condition. (Eric Lomazoff)

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    Lomazoff points out the role society plays in the destruction of Caulfield. The ignorance and all the isolation which he has to suffer was the result of ignorance. His innocence and naivety led him to conclude that adult world was deprived of good things. His deeds become more and more destructive as he tries to understand his own situation.

    The book is about the young man who was expelled from his school and then he puts a little effort to understand his situation. Caulfield is shown as a teenager in 1950s in New York. His life has been portrayed as a failure as he was expelled because of the poor record. He goes to New York for vacation so as to escape the wrath of his parents. He can be seen as a sensitive young man as he had a nervous break down. He undergoes a severe depression and he shows odd and erratic behavior. His depression leads him to his final nervous collapse. Caulfield suffers a mental and psychological battle which he finally loses. His behavior was not given any kind of attention by the people were around him. They ignored him as “mad stuff”. There was no body that could help him out. The main thing to understand is that whether it was his innocence that led him to this destructive end or was it his deeds. Of course his deeds were the result of his innocence or naivety.

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    The very richness of life is predicted on a 'fall' into the human condition, and moreover that the fall is as fortunate as it is inevitable. Granted that it is the 'human condition' in all its flux and even sorrow that makes us fully human. (Pinsker)

    Caulfield’s life and events throws the light on the attitude of the society and the role played by the people who live around him. Caulfield lacked inspiration and was deprived of attention and care. These were the main causes which resulted in his nervous illness. He had to face the mere neglect ion and was totally ignored. It gives the picture of the society that it hardly helps any body who is facing problems. Nobody ever tried to understand the problems that were faced by Caulfield; instead he was considered mad by most of the people. He himself tries to understand his situation and to solve his own problem. He probes over his isolation and the feeling of emptiness that surrounds him. After a time he declares that world is full of “phonies”. How ever it is very important to understand that was it Caulfield who was mad or was it the society that made him made or was the society itself was mad.

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    Holden's principle difficulty is not that he is a rebel, or that he hates the society he lives in, or its morals, nor that he is a coward, but rather that he is unable to sort out, or to purge himself of his burden of sensation. He is blocked with memory and experience (Kaplan).

    The attitude of Caulfield was considered insane only because no body ever bothered to understand why he was behaving like he was. The character of Caulfield could be considered real. Many times we see people acting strange but they are never helped. The child in him stops him from taking an adult view of the world. This stubbornness in him leads to his destruction.

    He creates a character that is not really in rebellion against the established values of the adult world, but as a victim. Holden is possessed with a strong sense of justice and respectability. His moral system and sense of justice force him to find horrible flaws in society, which he sums up with the word "phony". (Terri Benedict).

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    Caulfield acts so odd that many critics have problem accepting him as a hero. How ever we can say that Caulfield comes out as a tragic figure and a hero who fall victim to the attitudes of society.

    The phoniness of society forces Holden Caulfield to leave it, but he is seeking nothing less than stability and love. He would like nothing better than a home, a life embosomed upon what is known and can be trusted. …Caulfield tries to save his young sister from the phantoms of lust, hypocrisy, conceit, and fear-all the attributes he sees in society. Caulfield can think of children in good way but he has a firm belief that adults are deprived of ho(Marsden)

    nesty and love and all other good qualities.

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    Honesty in personal relationships, an honesty that he cannot find in an adult world. Caul referring to the process of birth, and "Field" as the rye field. The link between the dreams is significant to the novel suggesting that "no matter how hard the catcher tries, he cannot preserve the innocent life. (Marsden)

    Caulfield tried to seek help from several people including his teacher, Antolini, who tells him that, I have a feeling that you're riding for some kind of a terrible, terrible fall…This fall I think you're headed for-it's a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn't permitted to feel or hear he hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangements designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own world could not supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn't supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started…I don't want to scare you, but I can very clearly see you dying nobly, one way or another, for some highly unworthy cause.

    The character of Holden Caulfield, like that of all human beings, is complex and, therefore difficult to judge. Moreover, good literature, reflective of human life, is also very complex; therefore, it too, deserves close scrutiny before one can pass a just verdict on its moral worth. (Frangedis)

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Works Cited

Banks, Brain. Book Review. The catcher in the rye.htm, 2001.

Benedict, Terri. Review of Catcher in the rye, 1999.

Frangedis, Helen. Dealing with the Controversial Elements in The Catcher In The Rye. English Journal. (1988):

Kaplan, Robert B. Cliff's Notes: Catcher In The Rye. Lincoln: Cliff's Notes, Inc., 1999.

Marsden, Malcolm M. If You Really Want To Know: A Catcher
Casebook. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1963.

Pinsker, Sanford. The Catcher In The Rye: Innocence Under
Pressure. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher In The Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951.


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