The Catcher in the Rye is a novel by J.D. Salinger about a typical adolescent struggling to accept the ugliness of the society and transitioning into an adult. Throughout the years, there has been many books and novels written about this theme but this particular book was able to capture the struggles and spirit of this chapter of life by presenting the main characterrs somewhat indecent language and emotional reactions in a slightly dramatic way. Many authors and literary critics have praised Salingers language in this tale, which was used to make the narrator, extremely realistic. Salingerrs style is informal and slangy and itrs very hard to realize that itrs not a 16-17 years old teeneger talking to you but itrs actually a middle aged skilled author. Throughout the book, Holden Caulfield, the narrator, uses a very casual yet somewhat obscene language to communicate in an effective way. As a result, this language and theme helps the narrator sound very natural and believable, leading the reader to believe that they are actually talking to Caulfield.
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Language in Catcher in the Rye
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There has been a lot of arguments against the usage of offensive words, but in my opinion, although the language doesnt seem suitable for society, it is very suitable for the character. This honest reflection of a teenager, his thoughts, and comments not only help the reader to have a deeper understanding of the character, but also entertains them and helps them enjoy the book.
J.D. Salinger wanted to make Holden a typical kid while also keeping him as an individual at the same time so just like a lot of teenagers, he speaks in trite sentences, doesnt complete his sentences and uses the same phrase many times throughout the novel. Often he uses these phrases to add more to some inexpressible emotion or action like, how my parents were occupied and all before they had me and theyre nice and all. Many times there is nothing unique at all in the expressions as in was in the Revolutionary War and all, It was December and all, and no gloves or anything (Salinger 5-7). He didnt just use these phrases once or twice, but he made a pattern with it and made it a part of his character. Therefore, the and all and or anything sticks to Holdens speech serve to make his speech genuine and in a way unique.
The language used in the novel also includes a very straightforward and detailed description. Some examples could include the time when he said Youd have liked [Allie]. This sentence gives you a feeling or an illusion that Alliers right next to you. One of the biggest problems this novel faced was the usage of flagrant cursing. Just like most teens; Holden tends to use a lot of curse words like god damn or crap to describe a lot of things. Like I spilled some crap all over my gray flannel, or I was putting in my galoshes and crap. Crap was a common slang word between teens back then and still is. He also uses the f word a few times throughout the novel like when he says Another Fuck you. It was written with a red crayon or something This issue raised many eyebrows to whether itrs appropriate for this book to be out in public like schools and libraries and if teens can read it or not. Thatrs a very concerning issue but once again, his novel is written from a teenagerrs point of view and it was necessary for Salinger to include this regardless of it being offensive because non-grammatical and secular language is appropriate in the monologues and dialogues and also for the reader to identify Holdenrs character more quickly.
Throughout the novel, some contentious language takes place and a lot of people are debating as to whether or not it is really required. But the language is exceptionally important in order for this book to be as successful and powerful as it turned out. The language is suitable for the topic of the book, the social environment of it, and more importantly Holdens personality. Beside all the arguments since the book came out to this day about whether or not it is okay for this language to be used, we all can agree upon the fact that Holden language is one of his most important traits, and it makes him who he is as a person.
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Language In Catcher In The Rye. (2019, May 16).
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