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A Book About Life, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger Essay

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“Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger is, in simplest terms, a book about life. A novel about what it means to exist, to be human, and to live – and a sixteen-year-old boy mercilessly critical of the world of 1950’s New York he lives in. The movies, the music, the people are all meaningless to him, even despicable. He hates the way life works – the divisions between the rich and the poor, the endless walking in circles and the inability to understand one’s purpose. Holden feels that life is sad and empty because of unfair economic inequities, the fragmentation of society into different groups and the boringness of adult life. Firstly, Holden finds existence sad and melancholy because of unjust economic inequities. He doesn’t want anyone…show more content…
Another way of dividing people and adding sadness to their lives, according to Holden, is the fragmentation of society into different groups. In his opinion, such groups are automatically ‘phony’ because individuals don’t have the freedom to express their own views and opinions. Wanting to feel accepted by society is human nature, and Holden’s opinion is that being in a group strips you of your real opinion and intelligence and makes you into a herd animal, being forced to do what the group does. Holden thinks that groups, or ‘cliques’, force people to conform into a certain stereotype and do not allow individuality, and this saddens him. In chapter 17 he explains to Sally how prevalent these groups are in boys’ schools – “Everybody sticks together in those dirty little goddam cliques. The guys that are on the basketball team stick together, the Catholics stick together, the goddam intellectuals stick together, the guys that play bridge stick together. Even the guys that belong to the goddam Book-Of-The-Month Club stick together. If you try to have a little intelligent [conversation]…” (Salinger 131). Here, Holden explains how there can’t be any real intelligence or independent thought when society is fragmented into groups. I, however, do not agree with Holden – I think that a true intelligent individual will think independently of groups, and society is less
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