Catcher in the Rye Essay: Holden - The Misfit Hero

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The Misfit Hero of The Catcher In The Rye

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger was published in 1951. "A recurring theme in J.D. Salinger's stories concerns people who don't fit in with the traditional American Culture. Salinger's 'misfit heroes', unlike the rest of society, are caught in the struggle between a superficial world and a conscious morality" (1 Wildermuth). In his attempt to create a new and realistic portrayal of the times, Salinger first, effectively creates Holden Caulfield, the main character. Second, he sends his character on a quest, and third he titles his novel to sum up the whole overview of the story.

In creating his character, Holden Caulfield, Salinger uses profanities and obscenities as an
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It is also a Quest. Holden seeks for a new home where he can become "involved in people and life without the inevitable pain and disillusionment that seems to come with involvement" (9 Kaplan). However, Holden seeks for this new home in the world beyond the limits of his adolescent experience. The dangers that he encounters are therefore "metaphorical dangers created out of the contemporary mass culture-the loss of individuality, of accepted values, of intellectual autonomy" (9 Kaplan). Holden is a "mid-twentieth century innocent, especially in orientation to the code of the practical world of material achievement and success" 23 Kaplan).

Holden is also seeking a tremendous thing which the reader eventually finds out is love. He in effect is also a hero. The virtues of American Heroes are usually personal ones. Most often, the hero is in conflict with their home, family, or church. The typical American Hero must also flee these institutions, for only by flight can the hero find knowledge of what is real. Yet, if the hero does not flee, at least he defies. Holden seems to be one of these heroes, but with a slight difference. He needs to go home and he needs to leave it. "Holden seeks Virtue second to Love" unlike many others who have quested for virtue and then love (17 Marsden). Holden
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