The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger: Introduction

The Catcher in the Rye is the only novel of JD Salinger, a short story writer. It was published in the year 1951 and it has become the true representative of the 1950s America. It was a world of economic development and social gratification.

Jerome David Salinger

The young, the blacks, and the women had little power, yet the voice of protest was muted. This is the same society in which Holden Caulfield lives. Holden is one of many rebels in the history of literature. This literature of protest against society often purposefully satirizes conventional values. Supporting for his generation, he vehemently criticizes at the phoniness of his world, but finds himself powerless of bringing any meaningful change. He cannot even connect with another individual. His nature is to cut and run. In a nutshell, The Catcher in the Rye anticipates the major mottos of the 1950s: alienation, the silent generation, the lonely crowd. However, the novel has been criticized for not dealing with specific social issues. But it is obvious that it caught the peculiar social malaise of the 1950s with remarkable accuracy.

The Catcher in the Rye caused significant debate when it was first published in 1951. The account of three bewildered days in the life of a disturbed teenage sixteen-year-old boy was an instantly a great hit. In two weeks after its publication, it was registered as number one on The New York Times best-seller list, and it stayed there for thirty weeks. The immensely popular of this novel remains for many years, especially among teenagers and young adults. It is because of its fresh, brash style and anti-social attitudes - typical traits of many people evolving from the physical and psychological disorder of adolescence.

Many parents take this novel as a curse because of its main character's offensive language, unreliable behavior, and disruptive attitudes. Numerous school and public libraries and bookstores did not want the book on their shelves. For them Holden simply was not a good role model for the youth of the 1950s. JD Salinger said himself, in a rare published comment, "I'm aware that many of my friends will be saddened and shocked, or shock-saddened, over some of the chapters in The Catcher in the Rye. Some of my best friends are children. In fact, all my best friends are children. It's almost unbearable for me to realize that my book will be kept on a shelf out of their reach." It became the forbidden fruit in the garden of literature.

The conflict between the individual and society is the most significant theme of this novel The Catcher in the Rye. Holden dislikes the phoniness of his world. He wants people to meet on a purely human basis, but this son of a wealthy man is delicate to the blockades erected between individuals and society of 1950s America. The hidden ambiguities in this novel is, if there is something wrong with the individual because of his inability to adjust to his society or is something wrong with a society that alienates such an individual? Should Holden choose between the extremes of conformity and dropping out, or is there a possibility of improving the society?