Holden Caulfield and the Pressures of Society: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

1286 Words 6 Pages
Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, once stated, “You cannot open a book without learning something.” Throughout time, books, molded by their authors, have been the key source of knowledge. Regardless of the subject, most works of literature often have a message or theme for the reader. Not only do authors use themes, but also well developed characters to bring a novel to life. In the bildungsroman, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, characterization is often found, especially regarding the protagonist, Holden Caulfield. Salinger also includes many themes in his novel relating to growing up in a corrupt society. Hence, this paper will compare, contrast, and evaluate literary criticisms regarding the themes and characterization …show more content…
Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, once stated, “You cannot open a book without learning something.” Throughout time, books, molded by their authors, have been the key source of knowledge. Regardless of the subject, most works of literature often have a message or theme for the reader. Not only do authors use themes, but also well developed characters to bring a novel to life. In the bildungsroman, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, characterization is often found, especially regarding the protagonist, Holden Caulfield. Salinger also includes many themes in his novel relating to growing up in a corrupt society. Hence, this paper will compare, contrast, and evaluate literary criticisms regarding the themes and characterization of J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye. Many critics of The Catcher in the Rye discuss in depth the characterization of the protagonist Holden Caulfield. For example, Reiff believes that Holden is a “symbol of a spontaneous, idealistic, innately good child,” despite what some believe. Reiff finds that he is also an unselfish and caring person due to Holden’s constant generosity and worrying for others (69-70). Some believe, however, that Holden is a hypocrite or a phony because of all the lies he tells. Pinsker disagrees and defends Holden saying that he lies to keep others from being hurt (Reiff 61-62). Bloom agrees with Reiff about Holden being a kind hearted person with a soft spot for children, even calling him a “secular
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