J.D. Salingerr’s The Catcher in the Rye has been a hotly debated novel for nearly seventy years. The story features perhaps one of the most memorable central characters in American literature, Holden Caulfield. Holden is a sixteen-year-old boy who had recently been expelled from Pencey Prep, a prestigious academy for boys in fictional Agerstown Pennsylvania. Holden suffers from symptoms of manic depression and psychosis, much like the author of the book J.D. Salinger. It is suggested in the final chapter that Holden is undergoing treatment in a mental hospital at the time of his retelling. Holden experiences many symptoms of manic depression or bipolar disorder, including low energy and motivation, loss of interest in everyday activities, irritability, apathy, mood swings, impulsive and reckless behavior, inappropriate social interactions, excess desire for sex, and delusion. All of these symptoms affect Holden in some way during his three days in New York. Many of these effects have led to controversy in the wake of this polarizing novel.
The Catcher in the Rye is a widely discussed novel in school settings, particularly in high school and college discussions. The Catcher in the Rye sold over 60 million copies and is still fondly remembered today. As a book that so freely represents serious tones such as alienation, depression, and loss of a family member, it was guaranteed that The Catcher in the Rye would face some apprehension upon release in 1951, but even now many people take offense to some of the bookr’s serious messages. the Catcher in the Rye has topped many most challenged book lists and was even banned from the classroom several times.
Whatr’s Wrong With the Catcher in the Rye? There are many reasons concerned parents and teachers choose to challenge books. These include the inclusion of racial themes, alternative lifestyles, profanity, sexual content, violence, negativity, and unpopular religious and political views. In a passage about book banning, ?Punchels writer Jamie Leigh wrote that The Catcher in the Rye has the special privilege of being banned for almost all of the reasons listed above. Parents have objected to the books profanity, lurid passages about sex, immortality, excessive violence, negativity, communist elements, and depiction of alcohol abuse. (Leigh, 33 )
How it Affects Readers. One reason so many people love the novel is that the story and its narrator are relatable even sixty years after release. However, this may not be such a good thing. For example, After Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, he calmly opened up Catcher in the Rye and proceeded to read it ” before being apprehended. ( It has been said the Chapman thought of himself as the real-life representation of Holden Caulfield and wanted to protect children from Lennonr’s atheist views. The protection of innocence is a very large part of Holdenr’s character and is his premier alternative to the phoniness he is so disgusted by.
It seems that there are quite a lot of negative elements in the Catcher in the Rye, so what positive things can the reader learn from reading it?
I think that Holdenr’s character can remind teenagers who suffer from depression or from the loss of a loved one that they are not alone and can provide a form of representation for people with Bipolar Disorder in media.
The Catcher in the Rye gets its namesake from Holdenr’s misunderstanding of the phrase if a body meet a body comin thro the rye. He wants to stand in a field and save children from falling over the cliff into the depths of adulthood and phoniness. Most of all, he wants to protect his sister Phoebe, one of the only people who he truly trusts and respects. When he visits Phoeber’s school to deliver a message to her, he sees an obscene word written on the wall. And although Holden knows and has used this word, he rubs it away in fear that Old Phoebe will see it. Holden was unable to ?save his late brother Allie before his childhood was cut short, and his death provided the initial jolt that childhood isnt always a sacred shield of protection where all is safe.
The Catcher in the Rye provides consequences for the bad decisions Holden makes throughout the story. For example, Holden drives away many of the people that he meets, and this makes him a bit of a loner with very few allies. He loses some of the people he considers as friends throughout the story after he calls them dense, self-obsessed, or phony; and he provokes his roommate Stradlater to the point of a violent confrontation. When he fails to apply himself in school he is expelled, he begins coughing and becomes short of breath and traces it back to his habit of smoking, and when he tries to keep his expulsion from his family he ends up feeling more depressed and alone than he did when the story began. The inclusion of consequences for Holdenr’s actions lessens the likelihood of the idea that these choices and habits will rub off on the reader.
It must be understood that language and sexual tones were included in the story not to poison the minds of young readers, but to create a look into the eyes of a lonely adolescent. For example, Salingerr’s writing is intentionally imperfect to emulate how a teenage boy would speak in real life and to show that Holden isnt a perfect character, but an exceptionally human one.
Although the Catcher in the Rye has many grievances, I do not think that the Catcher in the Rye should be banned. It is a thought-provoking novel that is almost as candid as Holden Caulfield himself. It turns the simple premise of spending three days in New York City into a book that has been discussed and analyzed for sixty-seven years. The heavily debatable experiences in the story are what make its message powerful. Hold on to your innocence, your family, your friends, and your allies; because of the path of growing up is not steady and straight, itr’s a carousel that goes up and down, around and around. It really is.
Bipolar Disorder. WebMD, www.webmd.com/depression/guide/bipolar-disorder-manic-depression#1.
Is Catcher in the Rye an Assassination Trigger? Atomicpoet, 31 Jan. 2012, atomicpoet.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/is-catcher-in-the-rye-an-assassination-trigger/.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Banned Library, www.bannedlibrary.com/podcast/2016/6/17/the-catcher-in-the-rye-by-j-d-salinger-1951.
10 Reasons for Banning Books and 5 Much Better Reasons Not to. Punchels,
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