IRJE-Feb 15th

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger lacked a strong story structure, although it is not relevant to create an impactful piece of writing. Stories shouldn’t have to be set in a faraway land, or aris life-shifting ideas to be valuable. While, it is true stories are to be read mostly for entertainment and knowledge, to say The Catcher in the Rye lacks entertainment value and bravado would be to say life its self does as well. I do not wake each day ready to slay dragons or finds life purposes. The Catcher in the Rye is a book about Holden’s life. He shares his teenage thoughts and his regular way of going about his day. Salinger does not intend to shift people’s way of thinking about life as Yuval Noah Harari does with his nonfiction novels, or create culture-shifting art as Shakspere did with his dramas and comedies. Instead, his intention is to acknowledge the mundane activities of daily life, and the realities of our situations that need to be recognized even if at times we find them sad, repetitive, or boring. Though it is not screaming at us there is still a message hidden among Salinger’s illiterate, repetitive journal writing. The book expresses a realistic sense of human life, like Holden, says “I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.”(P.185)  I believe Mr. Antolini Holedns English teacher describes The Catcher in the Rye best when he says,

“Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement.” (P.189)

This quote elegantly describes all literature, using stories not for entertainment not even just for knowledge, but of accounts of others’ struggles or intensities. Books allow us to see the world through authors and characters’ eyes. they don’t have to change our perspective or have to add depth and value to your opinions. Stories are written to share; they allow us to sympathize with one another. That’s why I believe The Catcher in the Rye to be such a beautiful book. It is a coming of age story, that advises young readers, with the stresses of growing up. We observe Holden’s anxiety about becoming an adult. Holden is challenged by the responsibility and requirements of young adulthood, rejecting them time and again. He tries over and over to preserve his and others’ innocence. Eventually facing the result that growing up is inevitable, though it will not be as dreadful as Holden presumes. Salinger’s intentions were not to shift values, or change opinions; not to change the English language as Shakspere did. Salinger sympathized with young adults. A struggle “Many, many men have been just as troubled”(p.189) with before. “Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles.”(p.189) And you can learn from them if you want to.

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