Essay by ZheruiYeHigh School, 11th gradeF, October 2014

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Extended Essay English A1

Research Question:

How does a J.D. Salinger use character interaction as motifs in The Catcher in the Rye to induce reader empathy?

Word count:

Zherui Ye

Carlucci American International School of Lisbon




The Catcher in the Rye is an empathy-based novel, which builds its connection with the reader's emotions and feelings. J.D. Salinger uses character interactions a way to induce empathy. This exploration is based on the teenage or young adult emotions and behaviors that are portrayed by these character interactions that can be subdivided into three social group interactions: family interaction, school interaction and the new interactions.

Family Interaction:

What is a family? There is no actual definition that is right or wrong but we can mostly assume that it is a group where bonds are shared. Families can be blood bonded, or just a strong friendship. Its definition can vary from culture to culture or also within Literature.

In The Catcher in the Rye, the Caulfield family is an example of the usage of character interaction within the family to build reader empathy trough the uses the emotional topics such as death, sickness, nostalgia, and a place to belong. The three main character interactions within the family group are Holden´s interactions with his siblings and parents. Phoebe Caulfield is Holden´s little sister who he deeply admires and loves. Their interactions demonstrate the importance of maturity and childhood during the adolescent times. Allie Caulfield is Holden´s dead brother who is an important for Holden´s character. They only share past interaction, which builds up nostalgia. Lastly are Holden´s parents, almost non-present in the novel, which have the role to show Holden´s emotional detachment of the adulthood.

Death in Literature is an idea that is generally overlooked by many but also sometimes shocking...