Essai sur the catcher in the rye: "what does this book argue for?"

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  • Publié le : 23 mai 2010
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In his novel Catcher in the rye, Salinger certainly protests against many institutions or values of american society. But above criticizing, Salinger in fact suggests a new way to behave and to see the world, which could – in his opinion – improve the society’s lot. So what message does Salinger try to communicate to the reader through his novel Catcher in the rye ? We’ll see that Salinger triesto let a message concerning a few fields as childhood, adolescence, adulthood, education and family values.

Firstly, Salinger tells us a story about a boy – Holden – who constantly swings between childhood and adulthood : indeed, he is a teenager. Salinger uses this fact to expose his opinion on what has become – in the 50’s – the concept people have on childhood, adolescence andadulthood, which has been – to his opinion – completly damaged.

In The catcher in the rye, Holden appreciates a lot children - particularly is little sister, Phoebe. Thus, Salinger gives the reader a vision of childhood which is idealistic, he advocates the innocence of childhood. Also, Holden seems nostalgic of his own childhood, he wants to stay a child, not to become an adult.
Talkingabout his sister : « You never saw a little kid so pretty and smart in your whole life » (p.60) .
Talking about the little girl who helped him to find Phoebe : « She was a very nice, polite little girl » (p.107).
Each time holden talks about a kid, he compliments him, whereas when he talks about adults, it’s not the case at all…
When he’s looking for his sister in a park : « That’s the sameplace I used to like to skate when I was a kid » (p.106)
Here, holden seems quit nostalgic, like if he wanted to stay a kid, reminding all these good memories, he didn’t have any trouble…

Through holden’s personnality, Salinger sings the praise of childhood, saying the reader that you should enjoy this part of life as most as you can, because it’s a wonderful period that will –unfortunately- not last…

All the novel of The catcher in the rye is about a teenager – Holden – who is searching his identity and doesn’t really know who he really is and what he is going to become. In a nutshell, he dreads his future life.
When he comes to visit Mr.Spencer who tells him life is a game : « Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot shots are, then it’s a game, allright – I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot shots, then what’s a game about it ? Nothing. No game » (p.7-8).
Here, Holden shows a feeling of unfairness. Salinger tries to tell the reader how a teenager can have hangs-up and feel life is unfair. Salinger wants the reader to think about it, he would like the society not to consider only success at schoolor physical appearance in teenagers. Salinger is telling us we should also consider imagination, for instance – indeed Holden is a very imaginative adolescent.

Holden constantly shares with the reader his own vision of adulthood : in a nutshell – a part from a few exceptions – Holden thinks grown-ups are all phonies.
Firstly, he calls phony most of the adults he mentions : Pencey Prep’sdirector, Mr. Haas, Mr.Ossenburger, people working in the movies…
When his teacher – Mr. Spencer - uses the word « grand » : « Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke every time I hear it ».(p.8)
« Grand » is a world which is more used by adults and not that much by young people, so by saying this Holden shows us the world of adulthood is kind of a « phony world ».
Bycreating a character who is always criticizing the adult world, Salinger is in fact denouncing himself the adult’s behaviour. He tries to say adults are not themselves enough and that they should act more naturaly, spontaneously to really be themselves.

In this novel, Salinger also brings up the theme of education. Indeed, Holden is a kid with lots of scholar problems.
Here is Pencey Prep’s...
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