"Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger: Why Did Salinger Write This Book?

Essay by midstreet1High School, 10th grade July 2007

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There are certain elements which make up stories, one of which is the development of characters or a particular character. Many stories present the readers with an adolescent or young adult, as they are more prone to change than older characters . Observing characters’ growth is something that keeps the readers attached to the characters. However, in the book "Catcher in the Rye" by J. D. Salinger, the absence of this element is the quintessence of the story. An adolescent by the name of Holden Caufield narrates the novel. He struggles to change not only throughout the novel, but throughout his life. Holden does not change in his debilitated social skills, self isolation (intentional or not), and his skepticism of the adult world. He wishes to see the world in his way, and consequently refuses to change. His obstinance is the essence of Holden’s suffering, and the essence of Salinger’s story.

Holden is presented as a rather strange figure whose social interactions seem to be introverted and possibly impaired. No matter what happens to him, this characteristic stays with him, so much so that it is discernibly intrinsic. For example, Holden describes himself as “the most terrific liar” (16). In the beginning, Holden tells a lie to Mr. Spencer, saying that he had to go to the gym to get his stuff, and near the end, he lies about his mother being sick to a lady at a typewriter. Holden also has impulsive ideas throughout the novel which often land him in various situations with different people. In the beginning, he impulsively leaves his school and near the middle to the end, he suggests to Sally to “get the hell of here” (132), which causes a messy breakup. He realizes both of these characteristics (his tendency to lie and...