Importance of Language in The Catcher in the Rye Essay

1711 Words 7 Pages
The Catcher in the Rye, like many other great works, was met by scornful criticism and unyielding admiration. However, many literary critics also marveled at Salinger's use of language, which was used to make Holden Caulfield, the main character, extremely realistic. Such language includes both repetition of phrases and blatant cursing, in order to capture the informal speech of the average, northeastern American adolescent. Through Holden's thoughts and dialogues, Salinger successfully created a teenage boy.

The language used in The Catcher in the Rye has long been a topic of controversy in the literary critic's realm. Holden Caulfield's thoughts and comments serve to deepen his personality and to provide entertainment. Salinger
…show more content…
In some places, the expressions only serve to make Holden more realistic, while in other places Holden is trying to reinforce his values. Holden repeatedly comments on his hatred towards phonies. This could be the reason why he frequently confirms a statement with "I really do," "It really does," or "if you want to know the truth." He also authenticates remarks by reiterating them. For example, Holden says, "She likes me a lot. I mean she's quite fond of me." (Salinger 141) and, "He was a very nervous guy- I mean a very nervous guy." (Salinger 165) In each case, Holden makes a remark and then feels obliged to elucidate that he is not making the statement up. Such mannerisms disclose several aspects of his character. For instance, because Holden has been dismissed from numerous amounts of schools, he may feel inadequate because no one ever took him seriously and he had no substantial academic standing. Thus, Holden attempts to solidify comments by reminding the reader that what he says really is the truth. Salinger uses repetition with different phrases and styles to give a more factual backing to Holden's comments, thus preventing Holden from seeming like a phony.

Furthermore, Holden's speech can be rather vulgar and obscene. However, whenever he says words like "ass," it is simply teenage dialect for a part of the human anatomy. He does not say it to be distasteful. "Ass" is simply another word that Holden
Open Document