Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye was first published in 1951. The story takes place within a forty-eight hour period, in which the main character, teenager Holden Caulfield, travels to New York City, spends impulsively, and attempts escape adulthood and conformity. Throughout the novel, Holden struggles within society, resulting in his depression, use of vulgarity, sexual exploration, and continual search for his identity. Through the use of slang, profanity, and symbolism, J.D. Salinger portrayed Holden as a seventeen-year old boy whom exemplified the struggles of American adolescents and adults. The novel reveals that, although many people were conformists throughout the 1950s, many others wished to reject traditional American ideals and values. At the time of The Catcher in the Rye’s publication, men and women in the United States struggled from depression and drug and alcohol abuse, both issues discussed in Salinger’s Bildungsroman. Although they put on a façade of happiness, many Americans suffered from internal conflicts; however, because The Catcher in the Rye presented characters whom suffered from internal crises, many Americans could identify with it, making the novel highly successful. In the years following its 1951 publication, The Catcher in the Rye, continued to appeal to adolescents because of the controversial issues presented by J.D. Salinger.