The Reason Behind the Censorship of Salinger's Catcher In The Rye

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The Reason Behind the Censorship of Salinger's Catcher In The Rye

Many charges have been made against J.D Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in attempts to censor the book. Most of these charges are used as a smoke-screen for the real reason this book is considered "dangerous". There have been several attempts to have Salinger's novel removed from High School libraries and reading lists. The most notable instances are:

1978 -- it was removed from an optional reading list at a High School in Issaquah, Wa.

1979 -- it was removed from a required reading list at a High School in Middleville, Mich.

1980 -- it was removed from the libraries in the Jackson-Milton School District in North Jackson, Ohio.

1982 -- it was removed
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The f-word is upsetting to many people, but it is used perfectly in context in the book.

Occultism. It is difficult to see where this charge comes from. The only scene that even leans toward occultism is the scene where Holden speculates on whether Judas went to hell after betraying Jesus (100). This seems to be more of a doctrinal dispute than a venture into occultism. Holden also calls himself an atheist (99) and then goes on to prove that he is a christian in the next breath. This is the hardest charge against the book to believe.

Violence. Holden has a rough time in this book. He gets into a fight with his roommate and gets a bloody nose (43), he gets roughed up by Maurice and punched in the stomach (102), and he has several violent fantasies. The violence in this book is barely at the level of a Saturday morning cartoon, though. Again this is a hollow charge.

Sexual Content. This charge, along with the vulgarity, is the strongest. There is sexual content in the book. Holden fears that his friend Jane may have been raped, he lusts after women at every opportunity, he meets with a prostitute in his hotel room, he witnesses "perversions" through his hotel window, and he fears that Mr. Antolini is making a homosexual pass at him -- although the last is more Holden's fear than reality. Through all of these "sexual" adventures Holden remains innocent. He is a model of virtue. By High School, readers should be able to read these non-graphic passages without harm.
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