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Catcher in the Rye: J.D. Salinger

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1 Catcher in the Rye: J.D. Salinger
By Miles Blue Spruce, Tessa Carro, Craig Johnson, Kriscia Martinez, and Benjamin Smith.

2 Biography Jerome David Salinger was born in New York City on January 1st, His mother was a Scotch Irish and his father was Jewish. He attended Manhattan’s public school system and lived in the “trendy” areas of the city. Unlike most of his characters, he only had one older sister. His education was followed by prep schools (in which he had a very difficult time) and Military School in Salinger had began to write in his later teen years in which he submitted pieces to his school’s literary magazine. He was also the yearbook editor and took an interest in the drama productions as well. Salinger did not enjoy the harsh structure of college life and has transferred these feelings into his writing. A recurring theme in his books is a character who is impatient with formal learning, as can been seen in The Catcher in the Rye. Whit Burnett, one of his college professors, made a lasting impact on his life. It was in his magazine that Salinger published his first story, “The Young Folks.” Salinger faced a lot of rejection in his early writing career but then finally made it in the magazine career. He joined the Military and served until the end of World War II: here he continued to write some of his best work. Salinger’s most popular novel has been considered the Catcher in the Rye, in which a young teen faces some of the academic and life issues Salinger once faced. After the publication of the book Salinger tried to avoid the public and kept them out of his personal life. He even sued a man who wrote his biography and won. From then on he remained a very private person living in a rural New Hampshire town. J.D. Salinger died January 29th, 2010.

3 Detail – Quote 1 "He wouldn't do it though. He Kept holding onto my wrists and I kept calling him a sonuvabitch and all, for around ten hours. I can hardly remember what all I said to him. I told him he thought he could give the time to anybody he felt like. I told him he didn't even care if a girl kept all of her kings in the back row or not and the reason why he didn't care was because he was a goddamn stupid moron. He hated it when you called him a moron. All morons hated it when you called them morons" (Page 44).

4 Detail – Quote 2 “So what I did, I wrote about my brother Allie's baseball mitt. It was a very descriptive subject. It really was. My brother Allie had this left-handed fielder's mitt. He was left-handed. The thing that was descriptive about it, though, was that he had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere. In green ink. He wrote them on it so that he'd have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up at bat. He's dead now.” (Page 38)

5 Detail - Explanation J.D Salinger makes the protagonist, Holden, tell us everything he thinks: he often goes off on tangents about random subjects. In his thoughts, he goes on many crazy rants that go in depth, and he frequently looses track of the topic at hand. He often tells you his point of view, and tries to make the reader feel a certain way about a character. He will describe people as phonies and morons, and pick out their flaws far more often than he will commend them for their talents.

6 Images – Quote 1 “While I was walking up the stairs, though, all of a sudden I thought I was going to puke again. Only, I didn’t. I sat down for a second, and then I felt better. But while I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody’d written “Fuck you” on the wall. It drove me near damn crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it and how they’d wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them—all cockeyed, naturally—what it meant, and how they’d all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever’d written it. I figured some perverted bum that’d sneaked in the school late at night to take a leak or something and wrote on the wall. I kept picturing myself catching him at it, and how I’d smash his head on the stone steps till he was good and goddamn dead and bloody. But I knew, too, I wouldn’t have the guts to do it, I knew that. That made me even more depressed. I hardly even had the guts to rub it off the wall with my hand, if you want to know the truth. I was afraid some teacher would catch me rubbing it off and would think I’d written it. But I rubbed it out anyway, finally. Then I went on up to the principal’s office.” (Page 201)

7 Images - Explanation Holden is incredibly bothered by the "fuck you" signs he sees on walls. He's even more bothered by the locations in which he finds them – on the wall at Phoebe's school and in the once-sacred tomb in the museum. These are places that remind him of his own childhood, that would made him feel secure and comfortable and happy. Yet in Holden's world, this isn't possible; everything has been corrupted by vulgarities. Even his own death, he says, couldn't be sacred or peaceful, since someone would probably write a "fuck you" on his very tombstone. The most interesting thing is that it's more likely that a student at the school vandalized the wall. Holden, of course, either can't or chooses not to see this; in his world, children are innocent and adults corrupt. While this keeps everything nice and simple in Holden's mind, it also makes it impossible for him to really understand sexuality and the process of growing-up. While he does come to the realization that trying to rub out all the "fuck you-s” in the world would be an impossible task (as there are just too many), he doesn't make the important connection that it would be futile anyway. Children will grow up and experience sex, whether he likes it or not.

8 Diction – Quote 1 “They each had their own room and all. They were both around seventy years old, or even more than that. They got a bang out of things, though – in a half-assed way, of course. I know that sounds mean to say, but I don’t mean it mean. I just mean that I used to think about old Spencer quiet a lot, and if you thought about him too much, you wondered what the heck he was still living for.” (Page 6).

9 Diction – Quote 2 “But I didn’t enjoy it much. I just didn’t see what’s so marvelous about Sir Laurence Olivier, that’s all. He has a terrific voice, and he’s a helluva handsome guy, and he’s very nice to watch when he’s walking or dueling or something, but he wasn’t at all the way D.B. and Hamlet was. He was too much like a goddam general, instead of a sad, screwed-up type guy.” (Page 117).

10 Diction - Explanation Holden thinks and speaks in a very monosyllabic, colloquial way. The abruptness of his monosyllabic thoughts and speech, in addition to his simple vocabulary, somewhat impede him from getting his meaning across to the reader. When he tries to explain himself he clearly has trouble doing so, as is indicated by his frequent use of “I guess” and “and all”. Sometimes, however, his short sentences do convey the meaning he is trying to get across, but this is typically only when he is stating a fact, not when he is trying to explain his feelings.

11 Language - Quotes “ ‘Get your dirty stinking moron knees off my chest.’ ‘If I letcha up, will you keep your mouth shut?’ I didn’t even answer him. He said it over again. ‘Holden. If I letcha up, willya keep your mouth shut?’ “Yes.” He got up off me, and I got up, too. My chest hurt like hell from his dirty knees. ‘You’re a dirty stupid sonuvabitch of a moron,’ I told him.” (Page 44)

12 Language - Explanation
Overall, the language in Catcher in the Rye is colloquial, with few exceptions. Holden does curse, but he refrains from doing so when talking to a former teacher or someone important. When he does curse, he also uses more childish curses, like “moron” and “stupid”. His language is very repetitive, as he uses the same phrases over and over again throughout the book. The other characters that Holden comes across in the book speak in a similar manner to the way he does, although the only other characters that curse are Stradlater and Ackley.

13 Shift/Syntax – Quote 1 (Page 184-185)
“Yes—I don’t know. I guess he should. I mean I guess he should’ve picked his uncle as a subject, instead of the farm. If that interested him most. But what I mean is, lots of time you don’t know what interests you most till you start talking about something that doesn’t interest you most. I mean you can’t help it sometimes. What I think is, you’re supposed to leave somebody alone if he’s at least being interesting and he’s getting all excited about something. It’s nice. You just didn’t know this teacher, Mr. Vison. He could drive you crazy sometimes, him and the goddam class. I mean he’d keep telling you to unify and simplify all the time. Some things you can’t do that to.” (Page )

14 Shift/Syntax – Quote 2 “Where’re the mummies, fella?” the kid said again. “Ya know?” I horsed around with the two of them a little bit. “The mummies? What’re they?” I asked the one kid. “You know. The mummies—them dead guys. That get buried in them toons and all.” Toons. That killed me. He meant tombs. “How come you two guys aren’t in school?” I said. “No school t’day,” the kid that did all the talking. He was lying, sure as I’m alive, the little bastard. (Page 203)

15 Shift/Syntax – Quote 3 “ Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.” (Page 9)

16 Shift/Syntax - Explanation
Each paragraph consists of a train of thought. New paragraphs start when Holden switches to a new idea/thought or when he returns to a previous one. Holden’s thoughts are expressed in short sentences and are often fragmented. This also shows that he thinks similarly to the way he talks. Most other characters in Catcher in the Rye talk in a similar manner: these short, incomplete sentences and simple vocabulary also lead us to believe that they are not very intelligent.

17 The End

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