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Too often what passes for literary critics m is disagreement with the author’s plot choices; that is, we’ve left language so far behind that s moieties we judge quality solely based on a story actions. So we can appreciate a novel that co instructs its conflicts primarily through plot. But in this inexperienced world, sometimes we struggle to appreciate and celebrate books where the quality arises not exclusively from t he plot but also from the language itself.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Slinger is one of the f ewe bestselling books to never be adapted into a movie. The novel is able to remain prevalent and authentic even years later due to the careful use of language and narration. Holder Coalfield was aware of the reliance on film because he too lived in an imaginative world. He calls his brother a prostitute for abandoning book writ Eng for Hollywood and says, “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies” (Slinger 2).

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And the novel I frequently identifies itself in direct opposition to film, as for instance when Holder says, ” It’s pretty hard to knock a guy out, except in the goddamn movies” (Slinger 45). Slinger wrote a letter in 1957 on the issue of selling the movie adaptation rights of “Catcher” and explained that t “the weight of the book is in the narrator’s voice” (Slinger 1), so no actor could successfully port ray Holder’s harasser because the novel is heavily reliant on his narration, rather than his actions.

Holder became the voice of a generation, using grammar and word choice specific to that time period in not just the dialogue, but also throughout his narration, and most critics who I cooked at the text at the time of the publication thought that its language was a “true and authentic c rendering of teenage colloquial speech” (Costello 1). The Catcher in the Rye is the story of Holder Coalfield’s expulsion from Pence y Prep and his journey back home to New York City, where he bums around for a fee days trying to get someone to listen to him and meaningfully respond to his fears about become Eng an adult.

Holder has grown six inches in the past year and one side of his head is full of gray h air, both symbols of “impending, inevitable adulthood” (Rollins 87) and its accompanying adulterate ion of innocence. He’s so obsessed with and protective of innocence that he can’t even throw a snowball at a car because the car “looked so nice and white. ” (Slinger 36) Over and over again, Holder “struggles to reach out to peep?’ (Rollins 85) who might tell him that adulthood d will be okay, but he can never quite find a way to ask these questions directly, and no one ever listens to him.

Nothing much else happens: there are no explosions or car chases and certain only no sex, as Holder Coalfield is perhaps the first human in history ever to pay a prostitute not to sleep with him. What Holder really wants is not sex or money or power or any of the drab mantic stuff in Hollywood movies: he wants to stop time. As he famously says when thinking about the Natural History Museum, the best thing about the museum was that “everything law s stayed right where it was. ” (Slinger 121) One way this is explored is through sex.

Holder is very interested in sexuality, and he acknowledges his sexual desire, but what he knows of the adult world of sex I s very “scary and even abusive” (Salesman 12). After a possible sexual advance from a trusted ad alt near the end of the novel, Holder shrugs it off by saying ‘that sort of stuffs happened to me about twenty times since I was a kid” (Slinger 193). Like a lot Of what Holder tells us about his fee lings, that’s very subtle and requires close reading. It’s easy to see why the adult world stir ekes Holder as so “phony’: the only adult who pays attention to him in the entire novel has alter ROR motives.

So he just wants to stop time to keep himself and the people he cares about away FRR mom that world, or “catch everybody’ (Slinger 173) before they go over the cliff. In his letter, Slinger remarks that Holder can’t “be separated from his own fir steppers technique” (Slinger 1 The entire novel is told through Holder’s perspective, so the reader must acknowledge that his narration might be somewhat unreliable. Holder is writ g about the events that led him to a mental hospital, so obviously his experiences are very import Tanta and intense to him.

But, the intensity of these emotions is masked by the tactics of his narrate ion. Holder repeatedly uses narration techniques to “distance himself” (Salesman 85) from his past experiences. For instance, his hint at sexual abuse was so subtle, it was nearly unnoticeable. Holder also uses the passive voice constantly, which is a basic writing violation n. When he talks about his location at the school’s football game, he starts his sentence by says g “The reason I was standing way up on Thomson Hill” (Slinger 3). According to Salesman, this passive voice is a “coping mechanism” (Salesman 24).

The reason that writers are told not to us e the passive voice is because it creates distance, whereas active verbs feel immediate and real. B UT Holder needs to create distance between himself and the reality of his pain. He’s standing on t pop of that hill because he’s been expelled from school and also because everyone hates hi m for forcing the fencing team to forfeit by leaving the equipment on the subway. His desire to operate himself from that kind of humiliation is understandable. This is seen repeatedly in Holder’s voice, as well as other strategies of minim action of language as a form of selection’s.

He describes his institutionalized self as “pretty run down. ” (Slinger 1), he says Ackley is “sort of a nasty guy. ” (Slinger 19). He “so art of” strikes up a conversation with a cab driver, asking him what happens to the ducks in the pond when winter comes. Late in the novel, he “sort of’ gives his sister, Phoebe, a kiss. In fact, the phrase “sort of’ appears in the novel 1 79 times. Also, critics at the time of Catchers p publication remarked the “authenticity of the book’s language (Costello 251 ) and even sixth Y years later, Holder’s voice still sounds authentic, which is a function of grammar and word d choice.

After Seedeater asks the expelled Holder to write a composition for him because h e “doesn’t know where to put the commas,” (Slinger 28) Holder writes, “He was a little bit like Ackley, that way. ” In that sentence, there shouldn’t be a comma before “that way,” but it s mounds right. But Holder’s greatest gift as a narrator is that all these techniques Of creating stance only make it easier to empathic with him, especially when his defenses finial y break down. For example, when Holder talks about his brother Allies baseball glove, the entire e passage is in the passive voice, except his conclusion, “He’s dead now. (Slinger 38) The weight of those last three words is brilliant a present tense sentence in a past tense novel. The rear deer goes from imagining a kid standing in the outfield reading poetry from his glove to know inning that this kid is dead not that he died or that he passed away but that he is dead now. The et nose reminds us that he dead don’t stop being dead; that they remain dead, and that is how they h aunt us. Through his narration, Holder becomes “the mouthpiece for the counterculture of the 1 sass” (Riff 80.

He is writing about this during a time when grief counseling wasn’t a common idée a, and fighting “through a barren present” (Salesman 82) of the insensitive people he encounter errs adds to his struggle of reaching out for help. Over and over again, characters but especially Holder begin sentences with ‘Ii Steen’. Holder asks Ackley, “Listen, do you feel like playing Canasta? ‘ (Slinger 47) Ac Kelley doesn’t. To Lucre he says, “Listen, hey Lice… I need your advice” (Slinger 144) but Luck e cuts him off, unable to listen even to the end of the sentence.

But at the end of the novel, Holder says to Phoebe, “Listen, do you want to go for a walk? ‘ (Slinger 208) It takes her a who ill they start out walking on opposite sides of the street but they do go for a walk. Holder is fin ally heard. And moments later, readers feel an emotional connection as Holder writes “l felt s o damn happy,” (Slinger 213). The phrases repeated in that passage are “so damn happy” an d “kept going around and around. Some say that Holder never changes in this novel, but I n a way he does right there at the end.

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