The Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger Presented By: -Joormana Brahma -Digvijay Singh -Koride Sarita -P Bhargavi -Siddharth Gupta -Titiksha Dikshit
About the Author • J.D. Salinger, the legendary author, youth hero and fugitive from fame whose "The Catcher in the Rye" shocked and inspired the world, was born in New York City on 1st Jan, 1919. • After brief periods of enrollment at both NYU and Columbia University, Salinger devoted himself entirely to writing, and by 1940 he had published several short stories in periodicals. • Although his career as a writer was interrupted by World War II, after returning from service in the U.S. Army in 1946 Salinger resumed a writing career primarily for The New Yorker magazine.
Salinger received major critical and popular recognition with The Catcher in the Rye (1951), the story of Holden Caulfield, a rebellious boarding school student who attempts to run away from the adult world that he finds "phony." In many ways reminiscent of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Salinger's novel finds great sympathy for its wayward child protagonist. After the publication and massive success of the book, Salinger became increasingly reclusive and refused to give interviews or be photographed. He died on January 27th 2010, aged 91. "There is a marvelous peace in not publishing," J.D. Salinger told The New York Times in 1974. "Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure."
About the book • The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel. Originally published for adults, it has since become popular for its themes of teenage confusion, angst, sexuality, alienation, and rebellion. • The Catcher in the Rye is famous as the most censored, banned and challenged book between 1966 and 1975 for being "obscene," with an "excess of vulgar language, sexual scenes, and things concerning moral issues.“ • It has been translated into almost all of the world's major languages. Around 250,000 copies are sold each year, with total sales of more than sixty-five million. • The novel was included on a 2005 Time Magazine list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923,and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
Plot Synopsis The novel's plot is simple, detailing seventeen-year-old Holden's experiences in New York City following his expulsion, and departure, from an elite prep school. The book is more notable for the iconic persona and testimonial voice of its first-person narrator, Holden Caulfield. He serves as an insightful but unreliable narrator who expounds on the importance of loyalty, the "phoniness" of adulthood, and his own duplicity. In a 1953 interview with a high-school newspaper, Salinger admitted that the novel was "sort of" autobiographical, explaining that "My boyhood was very much the same as that of the boy in the book ... It was a great relief telling people about it."
Who Is The Catcher in the Rye? "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."
Holden Caulfield • Holden is by far the most complex character in the book (arguable the only complex character). • He serves three major purposes in the novel. Firstly, he stands as a critic of society, taking a stance against phoniness, hypocrisy, obscenity, and passiveness. • Secondly, he is an adolescent, caught between the worlds of childhood and adulthood. In this position, he demonstrates the need for maturity as well as the need for honesty and integrity. • With relation to the plot of the novel, Holden stands as a sort of anti-hero. He gives himself the impossible task of fighting society's phoniness, and in the end commits to that task wholeheartedly.
Other Significant Characters Phoebe Holden's younger sister, Phoebe serves both as a representation of the virtues of childhood (honesty, openness) as well as an advisor to him. D.B. Caulfield Holden's older brother, D.B. can be seen as an adult corrupted by society. A talented writer, D.B. was seduced by the wealth of Hollywood into writing cheap and corny screenplays. Mr. Antolini A former English teacher of Holden's and possible homosexual, Mr. Antolini serves, alongside Phoebe, as an advisor to Holden. It is his wisdom which guides Holden to a more realistic goal (that of fighting falseness rather than the end of childhood) in the end.
Themes • The journey of one individual, Holden Caulfield, into self-discovery. • Managed to capture the conflicts and identity crises which many young adults his age are caught in. • The novel is intended also as a piece of social criticism, calling for integrity and human interaction in a mechanized society. • Deepest-running theme of the book is Holden's stance against phoniness. It is no coincidence that Holden's journeys take him through a cross-section of American society: the school, bars, city streets, family, etc.; Salinger aims to show how widespread this phoniness has become. • Constant criticism detaches him from society and also results in some self-loathing.
Symbols The Ducks "I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over," notes Holden in the second chapter of the novel. The question is really one for himself, and mirrors a concern of Mr. Antolini's: where does a person go when his environment can no longer support him? Holden finishes the novel with an implied commitment to changing his environment rather than fleeing it, a decision much nobler than the one the ducks chose. The Hunting Hat Holden's attachment to the hunting hat can be seen in his early description of it: "This is a people-shooting hat. I shoot people in this hat." Perhaps the "hunting" Holden does is one not of killing people, but of criticizing them. When he gives the hat to Phoebe, it may be symbolic that Holden has chosen not to separate himself from society any longer.
Writing Style • The Catcher in the Rye is written in a subjective style from the point of view of its protagonist, Holden Caulfield, following his exact thought process (a writing style known as stream of consciousness). There is flow in the seemingly disjointed ideas and episodes about experiences. • The events of this book are not organized haphazardly, and in many instances Salinger displays his brilliance in the juxtaposition of two events in order to display contradictions and foils. • Holden's criticism of society is brutally honest: his profanity is atrocious, and he levels his knife against everything from religion to homosexuality without flinching. • Finally, Salinger knows when to break the heaviness of his subject matter with humor.
Why Autobiographical? J.D Salinger gives his personal vision of the world successfully through his persona Holden Caulfield in the ‘Catcher in the Rye’. Caulfield struggles with the background of New York to portray Salinger’s theme – you must live the world as it is, not as you would like it to be. when comparing Salinger's real life experiences to the events of the book, it is arguable most of the book is autobiographical Much like J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield is a very quiet, reclusive character who was also expelled from several schools and berated by his teachers for his poor performance, Salinger alsostruggled to keep his grades up, and one professor even called him, "the worst English student in the history of the college." “I'm always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”
Hatred of war "Anyway, I'm sort of glad they've got the atomic bomb invented. If there's ever another war, I'm going to sit right the hell on top of it. I'll volunteer for it, I swear to God I will." • Many failed attempts to find a meaningful, lasting relationship with a woman.“ I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.” • Similar mindset. "It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to." • The final, and one of the most interesting points that proves Salinger and Holden are similar is how they remark that, now that they've told people their story, they wish they hadn't. At the end of, "Catcher in the Rye," Holden says this about his story:"If you want to know the truth, I don't know what I think about it. I'm sorry I told so many people about it…Don't ever tell anybody anything."
Criticism • Goodman wrote "Holden was not quite so sensitive and perceptive as he, and his creator, thought he was" • “The Catcher in the Rye is too depressive to be of any redeeming value to the reader” –Stern, The New York Times. • “The story was ‘emotional without being sentimental, dramatic without being melodramatic, and honest without simply being obscene’ – Paul Engle, Chicago Tribune
"a beautifully deft, professional performer who gives us a chance to catch quick, half-amused, half-frightened glimpses of ourselves and our contemporaries, as he confronts us with his brilliant mirror images" • When we are honest we can see within ourselves suppressed elements of the forces operating within Holden Caulfield.