The Catcher in the Rye

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9 thoughts on “The Catcher in the Rye

  1. I think it’s really interesting how you delved into the sociological aspect of “Catcher in the Rye.” I had no idea that the word “teenager” didn’t even exist until the 50s and that adolescence wasn’t studied until the early 1900s. With these two key facts, the entire premise of the novel makes so much more sense to me as now I know Salinger was simply trying to define the word “teenager.”

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    1. If you haven’t watched the movie “Finding Forester,” I highly recommend it if you’re a “Catcher” fan. The Forester character is clearly a Salinger type. He mentors a teen-age writer in the film. The kid’s not modeled on Holden Caulfield, but you might hear some echoes. If writing movies are a genre, this one might be the best.

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  2. In your project I enjoyed the part about how most books of that time period focused on adolescence being a phase, but The Catcher in the Rye focused on remaining an adolescent, and how that drove more students to read the book out of rebellion. Do you think without the controversy surrounding the book, it’s sales figures would have remained the same? I think that if it had not been banned, it would have probably been less popular.

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    1. It’s sales figures certainly would have been different had the book not brought up such controversy. It’s hard for me to even have an opinion on whether sales would have been better or worse. See, the book was widely purchased, and still is, for classroom use, which brought up sales considerably. However, it was banned BECAUSE it was in schools, which then, of course just inspired teens to go buy it outside of school. Had the book no been so controversial, I don’t believe teens would have gone through as much trouble to read it outside of school, but its not being controversial would also mean it would have been allowed in schools and it would still have been bought for the English curriculum. However, once schools had enough copies in their libraries it probably would have been making far less sales, so, yes, I think it probably would have been bad for sales if the book were not as controversial in its time. Sorry that was so long. I was thinking “out loud.”

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  3. I’ve read The Catcher in the Rye more than once and I’ve never looked at Holden as anything other than a rebellious teenager. The reasons for him being a rebel are obvious and tend to be the content that got the book banned in the first place (i.e. the drinking, sexual content, vulgarity). After reading this though, I agree with you that he represent the identity of “teenager.” He’s trying to be act cool, though, and like an adult, but in reality, everything about growing up that he tries scares him. He seems awkward and nervous or like he’s trying to hard when he tries to do any adult activities. The only time he seems truly at home with himself is when he is retreating back into childhood (talking to his little sister Phoebe or speaking of whimsical ideas – the ducks in the pond). I think this almost perfectly describes that awkward transition period people link with the American teenager.

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  4. I think it’s very interesting that The Cather in the Rye was published when “teenager” was still a relatively new term. I never realized that Salinger was simply describing and identifying the behavior of an adolescent in that time period.

    With this in mind, since “Catcher” was published in the 50s, do you think 21st-century teenagers still relate to Holden? Furthermore, what book would be our generation’s “Catcher in the Rye”?

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    1. Teens can certainly still relate to Holden! I personally related to him in high school, though not so much now in college. He is relatable to teens still today because he deals with issues that we still see today: sex, love, normalcy, “phony” adults, school, and societal standards.
      As to what book would be our generation’s Cather, I really haven’t found, in my own experience, a book that clearly defines modern teenagers and has the same effect that Salinger’s work did. If anything, I would say that teen television series are actually giving a more clear definition of modern adolescence than any book from our time period. (I can say this because I took a class this semester in which we analyzed teen television… it was disguised as an English honors class)

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      1. I loved the organization of this project as it was very much in the form of its own blog and through that a very easy read. In the section labeled “Banned,” you mentioned that the book was intended for adults, and then picked up by a mainly adolescent audience. Do you think that the book receiving the attention and backlash that it did, especially for the more provocative contents of the novel, aided in drawing in this mainly teenage audience? Or rather, do you believe that the topics discussed in the novel are simply more relevant or pungent to teenagers?

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  5. First, I should say that I really admire how you always put forth effort to speak and ask questions in class. I need to work on that next semester.
    To answer your questions, I believe the provocative contents drew the adolescent readers in, and then they slowly and simultaneously realized that it truly was relevant to their own age group, because it helped them more fully define themselves. So, it was really both.

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