Controversial American Literature, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye

Decent Essays

One of the most controversial American Literature books, J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, went into full turbulence and had all the attention of critics everywhere during its release in 1951. Holden Caulfield, a New York City teenager in the 1950’s with manic-depression is the protagonist, is a protagonist unlike any other in coming-of-age novels. What most critics don’t realize is that his actions are exactly those of a depressed teenager would endure: being an immature compulsive liar who is manic-depressive. The over-saturation from technology into the 21st century does not separate the direct similarities of teens today and those twenty to thirty years ago. Today’s teenagers being “less complex,” “confused,” “anxiety ridden,” or any …show more content…

Holden lives between adolescence and adulthood. His red hunting cap is symbolic of his identity - something most teenages struggle to find. As strange as his hunting cap being represented as his identity, as Holden is strange himself, it’s his comfort blanket, as if he’s truly “hunting” for his identity. Even today, teenagers struggle to find their “true selves” and even through their early adult years yet to discover their identity. There are still so many unanswered questions, some that teenagers don’t get answers to until a much older age.
One obvious question for most is sex, a complex and complicated topic of discussion. Holden is a virgin throughout the book, interested, but spends most of the novel trying to lose it. He felt very strongly that this is something that should happen between those who felt deeply respected and cared by their partner but gets really upset when he sees that it can be a casual act. He doesn’t even get jealous that his roommate had gone on a date with someone he knew very well, but it makes him furious thinking a girl he knew was with a boy casually in such ways. He gets upset with himself when he is aroused by other women he didn’t respect or care for and is disturbed by acts he refers to as “crumby,” although admittedly said that it’s fun. He wants to hold on to his virginity

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