Novel ‘Catcher in the Rye’
Walking Through the Traditional Door to The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye is more or less so the most well-known coming-of-age book from the period after World War II. There is a lot of irony within the story of The Catcher in the Rye between the author, J.D.
Salinger, his actual life, and the book itself. It turns out that J.D. Salinger’s life is very relatable to the aspects shown within Catcher in the Rye. Although there are different characters and Salinger did not include himself as the main character, this story is a fictionalized reality—with a few modifications—that essentially ends up being Salinger’s life.
The idea of Salinger’s life in little tidbits is shown in his book, The Catcher in the Rye, throughout the entire story in many different ways.Salinger and Holden’s parents both have similarities. For a brief moment in the book, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden speaks of his parents and what they do for a job. Holden’s dad is a corporation lawyer (Salinger 107). By knowing this, it’s clear that Holden’s family was in the upper class group of the classes.
Oddly enough, Salinger’s dad was a “Jewish importer of cheeses and hams” (NNDB biography). Within the story, it says that Holden’s father was also Catholic until he married Holden’s mother, who was not Catholic (Salinger 107). In Salinger’s real life, his mother was a Catholic and his father was not (NNDB biography). This was ironic because Salinger’s father was Catholic in his life and in the book, Holden’s mother was Catholic, and so he switched them around in his book.Salinger as well as Holden was extremely good at writing. Salinger’s writing skills are shown because he wrote The Catcher in the Rye.
This book became one of the most well-known and one of the most read books by teenagers for school. The fact that Salinger was really good at writing and describing things shows in his book (Phillip). Holden was asked by Stradlater to write a composition for him describing something, so Holden wrote it for him and described his deceased brother, Allie’s, baseball mitt (Salinger 38). Salinger shows the art of writing and possibly how he started to become really good at writing by referencing the part about Holden being “good at compositions” (Salinger 39).At old Pencey Prep, Holden was the “goddamn manager of the fencing team” (Salinger 3). Although he didn’t exactly fence at the competitions, it was all up to him to bring the equipment and remember it.
He was still a part of the team either way. Ironically enough, Jerome David Salinger was on the fencing team at McBurney School as well when he was in school (Timeline). Salinger was the captain of the fencing team, but very well, obviously a part of the team (Timeline). It’s apparent that Salinger thought this would be a good little tidbit to help start off the book and involve something small and simple about something that may have happened in his life. Perhaps the equipment manager of his fencing team—while he was at McBurney School—forgot the equipment on the subway.
Throughout Salinger’s book, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden goes to various bars all around the New York City area including the Wicker Bar and Ernie’s (Salinger 83-84 & 143). Also within the book when talking about getting away from New York to Sally, Holden says, “I know this guy down in Greenwich Village that we can borrow his car for a couple weeks” (Salinger 132). When you look at J. D. Salinger’s life, he “frequented Greenwich Village bars and cafes” (Timeline). This is not exactly a coincidence that both are mentioned within the book The Catcher in the Rye.
Salinger seems to have included both the Greenwich Village and the frequenting of bars very carefully, as to not connect them together. This hints at his real life yet again.Jerome David Salinger was born in 1919 and raised in New York City, where he lived until the year 1953 when he was about 34 years old (“J.D.Salinger”). Now being retired, he moved from New York to Cornish, New Hampshire (“The Catcher in the Rye”).
This is worked into the book when Holden mentions going into “New York that morning” (Salinger 3). Holden had also grown up in New York, which is clear when Holden says he should “tell my mother I’m in New York” (Salinger 59). It’s also apparent that Salinger knew New York City pretty well because Holden always seemed to know how to get from one place to another with no problem, like he knew the place well. This shows that the author, J.D. Salinger, had to know New York City just as well too if he could write thoughts and places with that much description, like when he says “that he had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere.
In green ink.” Salinger knowing New York City well is shown when Holden keeps asking where the ducks are as well, and how they always disappear during the winter months (Salinger 60 & 81).On terms of education and school, Holden and Salinger have similar lives. Holden Caufield had been attending Pencey Prep, a private school, but had recently been kicked out of the school due to failing all of his classes; therefore, he had failing grades and didn’t even attempt to fix them at all (Salinger 4). This had not been the first school Holden had gotten kicked out of.
He was also kicked out of Elkton Hills and Whooton School (Salinger 136). Salinger never had education as a top priority during his childhood (“The Catcher in the Rye”). Along with Holden, Jerome David Salinger was also kicked out of several prep schools for failing (“The Catcher in the Rye”). Salinger then went on to graduate from Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania. Pencey Prep, the school that Holden has most recently been kicked out of, was located in Pennsylvania as well. Still on the education and school subject, Salinger later went on to go to Columbia University.
Within The Catcher in the Rye, Columbia University is mentioned when Holden is talking about calling up Carl Luce from the Whooton School he used to go to (Salinger 136). Carl had gone to Columbia after Holden was kicked out. This relates to Salinger’s life because he went to Columbia and felt the need to reference it in his story about Holden Caulfield.Alienation is a big part of both Holden and Salinger’s lives. Throughout the entire story of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden finds it difficult to fit in with anyone that he comes across.
At Pencey Prep, he didn’t seem to fit in with Stradlater—his roommate—or Ackley—the guy in the room next to his. Stradlater was more of the jock type of person whereas Ackley seemed closer to a “nerdy” type of person. Holden didn’t exactly get along with either of them and got in a fight with Stradlater (Salinger 45). When Holden goes to the bars after he leaves Pencey with all of his things, he doesn’t exactly fit their description either. Holden calls Carl Luce up from Whooton School, which he had left awhile back, and when they met at the bar, Carl Luce was far more sophisticated and mature than Holden had been (Salinger 143). This made it utterly difficult for Holden and Luce to communicate properly with each other and be on the same level.
Salinger was also alienated as a person and didn’t want to be involved with others. Holden seemed to want to keep himself distanced from others just like Salinger tended to keep himself off of the radar so his private life stayed private (Introduction To…). Salinger and Holden both are alienated throughout their lives.Holden and Salinger both try to get away from their original surroundings. Through much thought, Holden vows that he is going to run away to Vermont and start a new life where no one knows him. He first tells Sally, who he knew from back in New York, that “we could drive up to Massachusetts and Vermont” and that “we’ll stay in these cabin camps and stuff until the dough runs out” (Salinger 132).
Holden was set on getting out of New York and starting a life somewhere else. Later on in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden again mentions this aspect of moving away from New York to his sister, Phoebe. He told Phoebe he knew “this guy whose grandfather’s got a ranch out in Colorado” (Salinger 165). It’s apparent that this is Salinger talking and not Holden because just as well, Salinger had wanted to get away too. He had wanted to leave where he was because he didn’t like the publicity that his stories had been giving him.
Time Magazine says that he “retreated to his own Fortress of Solitude in rural Cornish, New Hampshire” (Lacayo 1). Salinger and Holden both wanted to get away from where they were to start a new life and be away from people because of the quiet, self-reserved people that they are. Salinger practiced “reversed exhibitionism,” which entails that he worked to keep his private life private (“Biographical Info”).Both Salinger and Caufield are in some sort of mental relapse. Holden is writing this story in flashback while he is in some kind of mental institution. This is assumable when he states on the first page of the book how he isn’t going to “tell you about this madman stuff that happened to [him] around last Christmas just before [he] got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy” (Salinger 1).
At the very end of the book, Holden mentions “this one psychoanalyst guy they have here” and “how he got sick and all” (Salinger 213). The two mentions at the beginning and end of the book—from before and after his flashback—show that he was in some kind of mental asylum. Whilst writing The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger had been in the military and then later stationed in Normandy for the D-Day invasion and the Battle of Normandy (Lacayo 2). Closer to the end of the war, Salinger appears to have experienced some kind of nervous collapse (Lacayo 2). This suggests that Salinger put the setting of Holden at the mental institution because Salinger had a bit of a mental issue due to the collapse. It’s also believable that Holden’s problem with thinking he will “disappear every time he gets to the curb” is relatable to the fact that Salinger went through that nervous relapse while writing The Catcher in the Rye (Salinger 197-198).
Holden started talking to Allie, his dead brother, in thought that Allie would help him get across the street safely (Salinger 198). Salinger’s leap into a marriage with a German woman he barely knew right after he got out of the war—which then led to a divorce anyways—shows that he was a little bit on the mentally unstable side as well (Lacayo 2).Throughout the entire book of The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger includes little pieces of information about his childhood and life leading up to the conclusion of his novel. Salinger includes information of his actual life through the fictional life of Holden Caulfield. He incorporates the area from which he grew up in, his strange infatuation with the ducks, his frequenting of bars, and also his nervous collapse in interesting ways. By researching and knowing more information about J.
D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye has a different perspective. Instead of seeing it all through this protagonist of Holden, the thoughts and experiences are also seen through Salinger during certain places in the book. Some of Salinger’s similarities that he included are quite obvious, like the fact that he grew up in New York City just like Holden did. Similarities included that wouldn’t be caught if you hadn’t deeply looked into Salinger’s life would be the connection between the Greenwich Village mention and the bar frequenting. Although the similarities between Holden Caulfield and Jerome David Salinger may not seem quite that obvious, they are there.
Salinger creatively mentions certain little things that may—or may not be—caught by readers. By knowing more about the author’s life, the book may take on a different tone and view in the mind of readers.Works Cited”Biographical information on J.D. Salinger.
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