Catcher In The Rye Emotions


Catcher In The Rye Emotions Essay, Research Paper

The passage of adolescence has long served as the central theme for many novels,

but The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, has captured the energy of this

period of life by dramatizing Holden Caulfield’s somewhat obscene language and

emotional reactions. The Catcher in the Rye deals with an intelligent yet

confused teenage boy struggling to see the genuineness in society. During his

experiences, Holden tends to use easy, natural, but controversial language to

help get his point across in an effective manner. As a result, the themes and

messages Salinger attempts to get across appear more natural and believable, as

if one was talking to Holden himself. Although seemingly inappropriate for

society, the language used in throughout the novel is very appropriate for the

character. At the time of the novel through today, Holden’s speech rings true to

the colloquial speech of teenagers, which includes both simple description and

cursing. For example, Holden says, "Quite amusing and all." (Pg. 83),

referring to the taxi driver. This oversimplifies the taxi driver, implying that

Holden does not necessarily want to praise or demean the man. Also, Holden

states that he will not tell his "whole goddamn autobiography or

anything." (Pg. 1), which indicates Holden’s hostility right from the start

of the novel. The reader can easily pick up on Holden’s stubbornness and views

simply from his language, which can help in defining the character. Holden tends

to use choice phrases to end his sentences, such as "and all" and

"or anything" throughout the novel. Using these phrases, it can be

said that these speech patterns are character traits since not everyone uses

them. Also, Holden tend to use the phrase "if you want to know the

truth" at the conclusion of many of his sentences. He feels compelled to

verify his statements and prove that he is not lying, which may indicate a lot

of his character. Because Holden failed out of a lot of schools and does not

have any close friendships, he attempts to solidify some form of communication

by verifying to the readers that he is, in fact, telling the truth. The speech

patterns help individualize Holden and made his speech seem more authentic while

making his dialogue conform to the contemporary society of the 1940’s. The

setting and theme in The Catcher in the Rye revolve around a teenage viewpoint.

Therefore, non-grammatical and profane language is again appropriate in the

monologues and dialogues throughout the novel. During this time period,

teenagers first start to rebel against authority figures and express themselves

more freely. Holden’s language reflects upon these newfound values in that he

curses and rarely uses proper English. At the time of the novel until today,

light cursing is considered ‘contemporary’ and even somewhat acceptable in

society. Holden seems to find it as an outlet to release his frustration, seeing

as his experiences change, his language does as well. When he is enraged and

caught up in the current situation, "sunuvabitch" and

"bastard" find their way into his vocabulary quite frequently.

However, when he simply addresses the readers as the narrator, Holden rarely

slips into this extreme form of swearing. Salinger conducted these speech

patterns so the reader can tell the extent and quality of Holden’s anger,

offering further insight into his character without lengthy word descriptions,

in order to help identify which types of situations make him the angriest. As a

whole, the vernacular speech we see from Holden Caulfield is very necessary in

order for Salinger to present his ideas in an efficient manner. With his speech

mannerisms, the reader is able to define Holden as a character much more easily

than had the novel been written in proper English. The reader can identify where

Holden feels compelled to curse in certain situations and how these

circumstances affect him emotionally. Holden can be identified as a character

who is unsure of himself, noting the constant using of "if you want to know

the truth", yet puts on a cocky front, making him as phony as the

characters he discriminates against. The Catcher in the Rye, however, depends on

this language, for the novel would not be as effective without it. Readers would

not be able to identify Holden’s character very quickly, if at all, in that they

would not see which situations upset Holden more than others. Also, the teenage

perspective of the story would be lost, in that teenagers tend to use their

choice phrases and light cursing. This would eventually turn the book into a

mundane piece of literature that would not be half as interesting to read as it

is currently, even though it is somewhat controversial. Throughout the novel,

some controversial language takes place and some argue as to whether or not it

is really necessary. The language, though, is extremely necessary in order for

The Catcher in the Rye to be as effective and get its point across. The

language, non-grammatical and obscene, is appropriate for the time and the theme

of the novel, not to mention the main character. Despite past and present

disputes over whether or not this language should be presented, all can agree

that Holden’s language defines him as a character and the situations that he


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