THE CHARACTERISTICX OF THE NARRATIVE DISCURSE IN J.D.SALINGER’ S PROSE
In The Catcher in the Rye, the narrative order of the events Holden recounts is changed. The novel is not a formal autobiography, since Holden, the narrator, does not go into “ all that David Copperfield Kid or crap”1, in his story, he insists upon “this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas”2.
The novel can be viewed as a flashback (analepsis) explaining how he “ got pretty run down and had to come out here and take it easy”3; up to the end of the novel, the reader doesn’t quite find out what Holden means by “ out here”. This device is called by Rolland Barthes the hermeneutic code - the means by which a mystery is, in this case, postponed by partial answers.
Holden gives the account of this “ madman stuff” that happened to him by using the Past Tense, but the narration of events is often interrupted by comments in the Present Tense. He uses the Present Tense to express his views, to establish zone general truths about himself and the world, as if to underline the permanence of his judgements and his decision not to give in to the “phoniness” of society. By the use of the about school and education, about books and writers, about love and children / about life is general.
Holden Caulfield is the narrator of the novel and he uses the Present Tense in setting a frame to his story. Then, he shifts to the Past Tense and starts with a rather formal in media res: “Anyway it was Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall” 17147sqz77dri8c
Salinger allows his center character to tell his “adventures” in his own way employing a first person narration. Holden does not always function as a trustworthy narration. He is presented as an imaginative teenager, a compulsive liar characterized by habitual exaggerations.
Holden gives us a partial view on reality, his view is often a diseases one and he doesn’t give an objective account of the events. Although his state of mind makes him see only the filth and perversion around him, his criticisms are quite often valid.
Salinger uses the limited omniscient view: the reader sees everything trough Holden’s consciousness. Thus, we speak about internal focalization. Since there is only one character through whose eyes the events are viewed, the internal focalization is fixed. Salinger does not use internal focalization rigorously, since the focalized character’s appearance, behavior and thoughts can with difficulty be described objectively.
In Holden’s narration, we encounter the traditional formulas used by narrators: “You remember I said before”, “I’ll just tell you”, “Some things are hard to remember”. qr147s7177drri
Salinger uses analepses within the story itself, but these are not formal flashbacks, since the earlier events come to us in fragments. The fragmented nature of their presentation is indicative of Holden’s state of mind. There are certain events that deeply trouble him, that plague his thoughts.
Holden’s flasks remembering the death of his brother Allie and that of James Castle, his friendship with Jane are that took place before the beginning of the story. He is troubled by the fate of the ducks in Central Park - these event appear as recurrent images throughout the novel. Thus, Salinger uses the technique of having identical phrases, and similar occurences appear from time in the novel. In describing Jane’s refusal to move her kings when playing checkers, he uses the iterative: “She wouldn’t move any of her kings”. He, thus, introduces one of Jane’s favorite habits- a futile gesture which comes to be a symbol for permanence.
J. D. Salinger uses the repetitive to represent Holden’s obsession with different things. These obsessions are also rendered by his vocabulary, besides the recurrent images of the novel.
Holden is deeply troubled by death and, from the beginning to the end of the novel, this appears under different forms. Death is present at Pencey through the Ossenburger chemorial Wing named after an undertaker who graduated from this school and who gave Pencey “a pile of dough”. For Holden, Ossenburger is the unscrupulous phony interested above all in money: “… he started these undertaking parlors all over the county that you could get members of your family buried for about five bucks apiece”5. Stradlater himself calls the school “a goddam morgue”.
Holden recalls over and over his late brother, Allie, whose death some years before caused another of his nervous breakdowns. He cannot really accept Allie lying in that “crazy cemetery”, where “all the visitors could get in their cars and turn on their radios and all and then go some place nice for dinner – everybody except Allie6.
Holden’s obsession with death is present in his language, too; on almost every page of the novel there appear the words “kill” or “dead” or phrases analogous to them: “You were supposed to commit suicide or something if old pencey didn’t win”, “I nearly got killed”, “That killed me”, “She kills me”, “That kills me”.
Holden derives comfort from the dead: among the few people he likes there is James Castle, who chose to die rather than go back on his word.
At the beginning of the novel, the narrator establishes some facts of the story foreshadowing the end of the novel (prolepses). The reader knows that something unpleasant is going to happen to Holden.
As for the category of duration, in The Catcher in the Rye, the dialogue and the descriptive pauses function in both ways: they advance the unfolding of the events or they add extrainformation without contributing to the progress of the events. The description of the football game with Saxton Hall is a means of setting the scene and the atmosphere of the novel without giving further information as to what happened to Holden. The dialogue between Holden and Mr. Spencer, with its frequent repetition of “how are you…”, “how’ve you been…” and “how’s…”, underlines the failure of the characters to make a true communication. On the other hand, from Holden’s description of. Mr. Spencer in his home, we may infer the weakness and inability of the teacher to help Holden. “What made it even more depressing, old Spencer had on this very sad, ratty old bathrobe that he was probably born in or something. I don’t much like to see old guys in their pajamas…Their bumpy old chests are always showing”7.
This is also the case with the description of Mr. Antolini. Although Holden is attached to the teacher, he drops some hints about Mr. Antolini being “more witty than intellectual about being “ a pretty heavy drinker” and about his smoking “like a field”, snowing that Antolini himself is caught in the “fall” and hence he is unable to be a “catcher” for Holden.
Holden/s dialogue with the nuns doesn’t advance the story, it helps to reinforce some qualities of Holden, which his eccentric behaviour conceals, - such as compassion, love for literature and kindness.
The “semes” converging upon Holden are scattered throughout the text and the character is thus gradually constructed. The reader is not given a “static” portrait of Holden. It is characteristic of Salinger that the reader learns very little about the character’s physical appearance. With Holden, we know only some facts about his growth: “…I grew six and half inches last year. That’s how I practically got t.b. … I’m pretty halthy, though”8
Since Holden does not always function as a trustworthy narrator, there is often a discrepancy between his opinions on himself and his actions. The reader himself. Despite his constant swearing throughout the novel, he exhibits warmth and much common sense. His hatred of movies is also misleading, because through his continuous role acting be proves to be a telented performer. His hatred of the world around turns out to be deep involvement; “About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater…”9.
With Holden’s language, Salinger gives the reader an accurate impression of the speech of a teenager in the 1950’s. The fact that the language is colloquial and slangy gives an air of realism to the novel and it also reflects the situation Holden is in: he acts impulsively and often he fails to analyse the implications of his actions. The frequent use of “and all”, “I really did” emphasizes his basic insecurity as if he feels he has to repeat everything he says before anyone will believe him; he must also insist on the truth of his statements. His language is also suggestive of his sense of isolation.
Much of the humour of the novel resides in the use of teenage slang “She was about as kindhearted as a goddam wolf”, “I kept holding into the phone, sort of, so I wouldn’t pass out”, “… I’m sort of glad they’ve got the atomic bomb invented. If there’s ever another war, I’m going to sit right the hell on top of it”.
On the other hand, his blasphemous language supplies a religious context, suggestive of one of the major symbols in the novel, that of the fall:” He told me he thinks you’re a goddam prince…”, “Goddam book”, “I was pretty goddam fed up by that time”, “ It’s supposed to be religious as hell”.
The Catcher in the Rye shares characteristics of the so-called “scriptible” modern text since it gives the reader the possibility to view the novel in different ways. The novel can be read as the acount of the nervous braakdown of a hypersensitive adolescent; one may see in it the thwarting effects on youthful idealism of a society based on mendacity, or it may be integrated in the trend of the symbolic American novel dealing with the Quest and Initiation and with the Fall-the reverse of the American dream.
The narrator of Franny is outside the story; it is an effaced narrator telling the story of some other people. In the first part of the short story, the narrator is an omniscient one. By this device, Salinger sets the scene for the meeting of the two levels and begins the story in media res; from the firstsontence we learn that some important event is going to take place, becauseiit is a “big weekend”. The second sentence introduces his characters and, as if using a camera, he draws nearer and nearer to Laee Coutell. Using traditional devices, Salinger draws the “portrait of Lane”. Significantly, he insists only upon the way he is dressed, without ever describing his face. The “semes” converging upon Franny and Lane are scattered throughout the text and, like with Holden, the characters are gradually built up.
In his short stories, dialogue and gesture are the means of characterization. At the beginning of the story, Salinger uses a kind of stratagem as if to delude the reader: he draws Lane’s portrait by merely describing how he is dressed, insisting on some of his gestures that suggest detachment: “Abruptly, and rather absently, he took…”.
Alfred Kazin in his essay J. D. Salinger: Everzbody’s Favourite makes the observation that for Salinger “gesture is the essence of the medium”10. The short story can present the character itself only by gesture, because it does not offer space enough for the development of the character.
Salinger prepares the reader for the later insensitivity of Lane by the description of his gesture at the restaurant, where taking a sip of his Martini, he looks “around the room with an almost palpable sense of well-being at finding himself … in the right place with an unimpeachably right-looking girl”11. His gesture shows him to be one of those elaborately up-to-date and anxiously sophisticated people whom Franny resents. On Franny’s arrival he tries to clear his face of truth of his feelings for Franny, like that of “his arm that shot up into the air”. He cannot accept love in its unspoilt reality. Being concerned with appearances, he makes a gesture to conceal his uneasiness, when their meeting, turns out to be disappointing and disturbing, by adjusting “his expression from that of … discontent to that of a man whose date has merely gone to the john”12.
Up to a point in the story, Salinger relies upon intrusive authorial comment to condition the reader’s attitude towards Lane. Then, he employs the more effective device of allowing Lane to break into Franny’s joyous account of sharing the pilgrim’s adventures with comments showing that he is not touched, interested or even really listening. There is no real talking only about their own hobby-horse. In their dialogue, there is an exchange of words that seemingly run parallel, underlining their impossibility to communicate. Although Franny tries to keep up her relationship with Lane, Salinger makes it clear that it is something that she imposes upon herself. There is an alternation of enthusiastic statements followed by statements which underscore it: “I’ve missed you! The words were no sooner out than she realized that she didn’t mean them at all”13.
The introduction of Franny’ letter makes a contrast ti Lane’s self-passessed appearance. Salinger does not draw a formal portrait for Franny, the traits and characteristics converging upon the name are diffused all over the text. The writer’s deep the interest lies in the psychology of his characters, in the spiritual values for which they stand. Nevertheless, there are hints to her beauty and to her belonging to the sophisticated stratum of society, to Lane’s pleasure in seeing her way of dressing, witch is “ not too categorically cashmere sweater and flannel skirt”14.
While with Lane Salinger suggests detachment aloofness Franny’s letter shows her to be deeply involved with life. The letter functions as an external analepsis making the connection between the present state of their affair and the past characterized by Franny’s infatuated love. Her soul is deeply use of such phrases as “ kindly have the kindness”, “every single minute”, “I love you, I love you I love you”. Franny’s remark “Let’s try to have a marvellous time this weekend” ironically contrasts to the scenes to follow.
The story may be read as the breaking down of Franny Glass’s conscious self-delusion concerning her opinion of Lane and her feelings towards him. For, at the very start of the story, Franny takes Lane’s gesture of self-indulgence for what it is. “But by some old, standing arrangement with her psyche she elected to feel guilty for having seen it”15, she sentences herself to listen to Lane’s ensuring conversation with a special “semblance of absorption”.
Franny is not one clearing her face of affection, but her gestures disclose her drifting away from Lane: she gives him a little “pressure of simulated affection”. Her troubled state of mind is suggested by the recurrent image of “perspiration” on her forehead: Salinger conveys her state f mind by using the repetitive. In setting the scene of the short story and introducing the characters, he uses the iterative, although it is not marked by “would” or “used to”, here it shifts into the Past Tense.
By his use of dialogue, Salinger adheres to dramatic representation, he tells his story more directly with the help of narrative of speech.
There is an alternative combination of calogue (narrative of speech) and a commentary to the narrative of speech and it may also make the story advance.
Salinger comments on Lane who “couldn’t let a controversy drop until it had been resolved in his favour”16, adding sopme further information to the development of the story.
The writer makes shifts from the omniscient point of view to a limited omniscient point of view when the two characters reveal themselves through dialogue and when he presents his protagonists as they see each other.
Salinger makes use of the reported or direct discourse, which is generally marked by declarative introductions like; “Franny said”, “Franny shook her head”, “Lane stated”, he asked”, “he said”.
Zooey begins, as Salinger puts it, “with that ever fresh and exciting odium: the author’s formal introduction”17.
J. D. Salinger characterized the narrator of the story as “wordy and earnest … but rather excruciating personal”18 . He devises a curious game of the narrator withdrawing into the story and becoming a person merely mentioned by the other characters. From the 1st person of the introduction, there is a shift to an omniscient 3rd person narration.
The narrator commenting pon himself is Buddy Class Franny’s writer brother, who prefers the term “prose home movie” for short-story. He players” and giving a brief characterization of each. “The leading lady” is a sophisticated, languid type and, as the reader learns about it, later in the story, she turns out to the Franny.
The other lady of the “prose home movie” is the Class children’s mother, whom Buddy has photographed in her old housecoat. “The leading man” is Franny’s gifted actor brother Zooey Glass.
The narrator also comments upon the language they use and which is “ a kind of esoteric family language, a sort of semantic geometry in which the shortest distance between any two points is a fulish circle”19.
The story proper begins with Salinger’s manual in media res: “Ten-thirty on a Monday morning in November of 1955…”20.
Using Salinger’s words, the short story is excruciatingly personal, there is no organic connection between what the writer intends to convey and the means of presentation. Many of his critics have pointed out that in ger’s words, the short story is excruciatingly personal, there is no organic connection between what the writer intends to convey and the means of presentation. Many of his critics have pointed out that in Zooey there is not much presentation of character. Warren French quotes John Updike who said that “a lecturer has usurped the writing stand”21.
Warren French further states that the public has been right in his enthusiastic reception of Zooey’s general message about the advisability of improving one’s self rather than criticizing others and that the reviewers have been right in their reservations about the craftsmanship of the presentation. It is a tale in which the author “shows” too little and talks too much.
In the introductory part, Salinger uses the free indirect dicourse and then makes the shift to a third person narration with an omniscient point of view. Unfortunately, his ideas are not organically linked to the presentation of event, character and narrative of speech. He merely renders his iceas by a tiresome monologue carried forth by Zooey.
To convey the message of the story, the writer uses the repetitive; Zooey expresses his ideas on knowledge, on society, on Franny and on himself by over repeating them.
The long accounts of the family’s eccentricities serve as analepses to incorporate into the story the background of this imaginary family – the Glasses; Buddy’s letter written to Zooey which is reproduced to full extent serves the same purpose.
Seymour: an Introduction and Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters are 1st person monologues filled with confidential asides that “acquaint the reader more with the narrator than with his subjects”22.
The purpose of Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters is not so much to tell a story as to present a “memorable” character – Seymour – in a favourable light. Curiously, the reader learns not so much about Seymour, but about Buddy, the narrator, who is present in the story as a participation character.
Seymour appears only in the conversation of others. The flshbacks have a fragmented character because the other protagonists’ rememberings are combined with entries from Seymour’s diary.
The story is rather a philosophical dialogue between the personal who fight over the interpretation of Seymour’ character. Hie character is not convincingly drawn, the reader remains questioning the validity of Buddy’s admiring opinion on his brother.
Beneath the extreme length and the wordiness of the story, some structure is discernible, through which the principal events of Seymour’s wedding day are rendered.
Seymour: an Introduction is an attempt to break down the aesthetic distance between writer and reader. Warren French considers that a reason for it is the writer’s wish to establish a kind of relationship that will make the reader share the experience, but an experience in itself. Salinger tries to bring the reader completely into action, but, as with Zooey and Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters, on gets the impression of a long, tiresome lecture. The semes converging upon Seymour are difficult to put together by the reader, because most of them, such as his poetic genius, his quality of a seer, lack evidence.
Only in the fifth section does the writer revert to the traditional short story form to explain some of Seymour’s endearing characteristics, such as indifference to the material aspects of life and his ability to do without sleep nights on end when absorbed in a problem. In the works, Seymour appears to the reader as “an emotional superman who has risen so far above self as to destroy himself rather than compromise with society or destroy others”23.
Critics do not rank Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters and Seymour : an Introduction as serious art, because they do not help the reader to understand his experience, but, seek to replace it.
Salinger exhibits his craftsmanship in the short story, where, opposed to a leisurely sense of suggestion, there is a need “to fill in each inch of canvas, each movement of his scene”24.
Due to their dramatic quality, the burden of meaning in his short stories is carried by the dialogue and by the gestures of the characters.
Most of Salinger’s short stories start with a sentence arousing the reader’s curiosity: “There were ninety-seven New York advertising men in the hotel, and … the girl in 507 had to…”, “ It was almost three o’clock when …” or “When the phone rang, the grey-haired man…
In A perfect Day for Bananafish, Muriel’s portrait is drawn by emphasizing apparently unimportant details concerning her behavior. The "semes" of her moral portrait are relatively organized on a few pages so that the render can infer some characteristics of the person described. Muriel belongs to the tough-minded category among Salinger’s personal, Since we learn about her that “She used the time” and that “She was a girl who for a ringing phone dropped exactly nothing”.
In J.D.Salinger's short stories there is little action, it is through dialogue that the story advances.
Through Muriel’s conversation with her mother, the reader gets some information about Seymour as he is seen by the “phonic” : a mentally ill person who, by his disconcerting behavior, foreshadows the fact that he may lose control of himself.
Seymour reveals himself in the dialogue with Sybil, and his tale of the bananafish becomes the symbol of his own entrapment not only by the entrapment not only by the world around him, but by his own persnality, as well. Like all over in Salinger’s work, his nice characters derive confort and relief from the company of children. His erotic trifling with the gold-haired little Sybil is not one more neurotic symptom, but an attempt to escape from sexual bondage to the freedom of love.
Eloise of Unvle Wiggily in Cnnecticut reveals herself as being “hard as nails” not by what she does, but by she says. Here,, dialogue also has the function of an analepsis: we learn about her past, about her late lover Walt who comes to represent the nice world.
The transcription of telephone calls may become suggestive of moral collapse of a man completely overwhelmed by the phony world, as in Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes. Clay’s also depicted by the brief conversation with Sergeant X. In this case, analepses are inserted into the dialogue giving explanation about past events: Sergeant X’s nervous braakdown or corporal Z/s sadistic killing of the cat.
Many critics have revealed the dramatic quality of Salinger’s short stories. A Perfect Day for Bananafish has the tight, three - act structure of a play. In the realistic first act, we witness the telephone conversation of the Young wife with her mother; the second act is fanciful and it shows Seymour on the beach with a small girl. The rapidly moving third act is divided into two scenes : in the first one, Seymour accuses the woman in the elevator of staring at his feet and the second scene ends with Seymour firing “a bullet through his right temple”25.
The classical dramatic unities are to be recognized in Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut: the action. takes place in a single afternoon .
Salinger’s handling of the dialogue is traditional, he often breaks up dialogues by narratior-comment, expanding it into a slowed-down scene.
As compared to The Catcher in the Rye, the style of the short stories is by far more distant; Salinger uses the omniscient third person narration. As to perspective, he employs nonfocalization, since the narrator knows more than his characters. If we consider the narrator’s situation, most of the stories are told by an absent narrator and the narrative is ulterior.
The narrator may also be present as participating character as in For Esmé- with Love and Squalor and De Daumier – Smith’s Blue Period. In the first part of For Esmé with Love and Squalor, Salinger uses the iterative to describe the American soliers and to suggest the atmosphere of the short story: “ … when we spoke to each other out of the line of duty, it was usually to ask somebody if he had any ink…”26. The isolation of the American soldiers is underlined by their being “letter-writing types”, which also following the D-Day landings.
The story proper has the role of an analepsis when viewed from the prologue. It gives the circumstances under which the narrator came to know Esmé, to whose wedding he now received an invitation. The flashback of the narrator gives insight both into “love” and “squalor”. Love and sympathy are embodied by Esmé, who struggles not only for Sergeant X’s soul, but also for her brother Charles’s who has lost during the war the parental guidance capable of redeeming him from his animalistic egotism.
The first part of the story is told by using the reported discourse; the narrator tells the story of his encounter with Esmé as something very close to him. In the second part, there occurs a change of pronoun: Salinger shifts from the “I” of the prologue and the first part to a 3rd person narration to achieve distance from the squalor he has to depict.
In most of his short stories, the phony wold is more vividly described, since it is the one that really exists. The filth and the decay of this world (Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut) are suggested by the use of relevant adjectives: Mary Jane, Eloise’s friend, looks “fouled”, the lunch is “burned”, the snow is “soiled”.
The order of events retold is not changed and it generally functions in the traditional way. Nevertheless, the abrupt ending of A Perfect Day for Bananafish transgresses the code of action. With Seymour committing suicide, the expectation of the reader are transgressed causing surprise, the more so as in the story there is no gradation of the events to a climax. Seymour’s tale of the bananafish, who died because of their gluttony, is the only foreshadowing of his death. It is a completive prolepsis, because it fills in advance a later ellipsis, it gives some explanation about Seymour Glass’s motives to kill himself.
The mystery of these motives is not completely resolved within the story and besides this there are several other mysteries : Seymour had apparently driven his car into a tree, there some hints about his asking Grany about her passing away, and about something he did to some “ lovely pictures from Bermuda”27.
We may also apply what Roland Barthes calls the referential code to. The Catcher in the Rye and to Salinger’s other works.
Throught this code, Salinger gives general knowladge about it. The way of life presented in the novel is that characteristic of the 20th century America comprising elements, people entangled in the race for money, banks, hotels, martinis, preocupation with sex and sexual perversion, the loosening of the bond betweenparents and children.
Salinger’s works convey the moon of the American youth in the forties and fifties with precision underlining “the phenomenon of social immaturity” 28, the desire not to brow up.
That is why the writer consistently sets the world of grownups in opposition to the world of the child with its sincerity, purity, goodness and lack of concern for self.
The Mainstream journal observed that in the fifties “ to contrast coldness, alienation, and conformity with love was tantamount to a revolutionary act”29.
“Although The Catcher in the Rye appeared in 1951, the season of its success is not yet over.
the seaso~. of its suecess is not gat oger. It has becone a. standard agaiust ~vhich ns~v nfl~els about guua~atars are , ~~et~sursd. Its 1~ gsa,r~-oId hsro is one of tk~e 20t~' centurg
fi~ures, lost, frzghte~.ed, lanslg in 'zi.g Tw~orld, firying to. fin~ out ~ho he is and ~Qhsre hs is. .~~ e hero is a~~k~rd, ~orried* uncertsin, and intelligent, psrceQtive. Tha gtorg ia intensel,Y fun~'~. ~ Z.:~iages ).
~here is a faslin.g in ~ quarters th~t altogether
too s~uch fuss is bei~ rnads sbottt ~'erome Da~rid Sslinger. In ~se work,. ths stxt~ of tha parts adds ttp to- mors than the ~rholc. If there is a ~ Salinger cult tt, the hostils a.s sell as the friendlg criticism are caught up in it. ~ aSalir~g~er cult ~' ®~ista, ha~e~s9er, t,.~s;e ~'act il~.ustratas ths a~tthor''s gower to
~ive rsaiitg to lais ersatt~rss, ts invent ch~racters who enter thc reader's mind, and there sssu~ a Iife ©f their o~:
~.~~ing~r~a c~cters s~cist in e soaistg ~rhere thsg
a~re ' not ro~xaded~ fiQtioes~. . c~~.ti~a, with thair en~riro~rnt,
their fti~da~ a~ fass, thsir po~iticar~ th~fr ~oba~, their
pasgchologfcai aaae b.i~rtories, anci their saz live®. a~.l in pi'ace~t~, satys henrg E~~~ald.
~xe Catcher in the ~te is s Iyria monologztd, in ~hich wm~~ ~
th® co~plete feeli~s of an essantiallg atatic charscter ara
gradusZlg revealed. ~'Jhat Salinger hae sesn in tne Atnerican I~.fe is the e~ordiru~.ry tension it sets up bet~een th®
passiox~ to understand and svoluate our e~rrpariancs for aurselve sr~d au~ naed to belartg to s co:mnunity~, that ia usual~ energetic in imposin~ its un:~Qrstanding ancl valuag on its indi~~ririua7.s.
~sli~gerts c.zaractQrs give the readst a feeling of his awn sen.sitivit~t to c©espsr~.a:te z°or thsir la.ck of crsatad de~asit they e~a.st outsids the cnsrr~sd circle of the ~rall-ad~ t~st®d, a:~,c3. thair cries for love a~d o..~ciarsta ~di~ go t~heard.
5al~~er's novel is his nost ambitiaus gressnte.tion
of aspects of contemporarg a~.isnation, his :nost succsasful capture of an bmerican audisnce. ~ns noval is the bog,s co~ent, h~.If-humarous, half-agoni~ir~g, concer~ng h~Ls o.t tsr~pt to raco,pture hia identitg, a~~d his hopc~s for belon~;~.ng, bg pZaying g man--abaut-to~n far a lost ~ partiai:i.y~ trafic, certa~inly frenstic ~reek-~.md. Gi~aplin-.lfka i~cicionts, and half-am~tsin~, haif-dasparate dial.og~zes ~reep the storg ai~~aya hovefrirsg in ambivsl~ce bst~eew comedy and trs,gedy. Y~~ a ahsracter s.pproachQs i~opelsaeness, he is gettj.ng thsre by the route- of the ecsaic~,
The aovk prote~tts against 'c~oth acada~rnie and sa. iai ca~f'orm~.tg. But ~t da~sa~ it srgcte tor ~ ~£oldsn ahara ~s~ ects tha notion of a con~entfona~. f~tturs,~ in' ~.tch he~ ~mril.i ~rark in
~, ~'t'ics: meke s lot of ~o~eg,~ ~~i.d;e i~t caba; pla~r bridge and go to thav m4vias* :~,oebsv seps: "Y'e~ dan·t ii~e n~r schooZa~ You don·Wika a-m~ltart t~iii~e~: X~ut ~don~~": 2he crie~ra~ters~ trd~le~r are rdthin= ' ~ot ~i'thaut . Wis : is the~ diag~osis tor the ~~ .~f`evsr~, s disoa~a® ~ith tao sg~toma : a kind at i~capacitg to p~e ona~s e~aotions, and ths ahronic aez~citi~rit~ or asnse of loss~
sioZden nas no capacity to purga his sensationa. iIe is
bior~n up lika a bolloon, or Iike a i~anana-fish, :vith hia mer~ories. ~ith tim goo~. thin,gs he reraembers, hs retains ths
aad thin~s a,~ s~ll .- until, az'~tsr a poi.~~t, nothing is coraplet::ld ~oad or bad, but simpl~ retained and chsrishs:l. as part of hinself, subperging mim ~ith the ~ei~ht of the accumulated burden. n :~hat is un.beaz~able is not tha.t some people are i~ad,
but that i~periencs is flesting. ~rer~thi~ must ba retained". `.~.~'b,e i~:za,ge i~~olden has of himelf, tnat of ~aQin~ tha catcher i~z ths rtJe, is the ;~ei~feat :.etaphor .~or this ob,jective. ~ie a~an.t.~ to guard t ~e c~~ildren .from falli~ off ''t~za ~dge'~; likeprise, he tries to ~usrd each e~periencs f`rom ~"a.llixzg into o'oliovion. ;~ith this iserspective, 'ae fails to discrir.~te betwaen f.~nportant and unimportaut e~pariences, tc dstermine ~vhich to retain and wh~.ch to reject~ ~his is s psy~chological conflict 'crstwee~ the desira to participats an3 thg need to ~ithdrr from society. ~is is 8 ~oneonformist, but a para~i.~reed one. ~he haro ie casrisd alor~g in tbs ilo~ his o~rn' ps~che, :zeither tou~ard nflr a~rag trom ax~ythi~. iis dsifta ~.~2 a couree more or less parall©l to that of ~cisty, alt err~stsly temptsd axld rr~pelled, ~~e.if i~linsd to participats, hs.lf fncli~ed to v~ithdr8a~. ~iolder~fs trs,gee'~y ~.s that he hea ~zo ~°eal idaals of his o~ to substitute for thg phpr~y idsals og ao4isty, his trus problem i.~s ti~t he triss to be sinasre in an. izusinaers ~orl.d. Holden i~ outeido ot hi~self, loo'l~g foac . othere. He know~s tiaat the othsre are~ ~ uet a~ gha~ a~c ths °~riasn ~Sea~~, and he also ~ tba,t hs fa being ae bit o~f' p~n~ himself; he rsaliaee hs is in a bad ~,T* but doe~..npt knos what to do about it. some critics conderwr~ ~olden tor ~not ~.iking a~thin;g", but he doee he lii~es the onlg th~.ngs - reall~ ~orth likir~~; because he is sincere, in.e will not r~sttl® for Isas. ~e aook s£:ac~s t~sa grot3gon~,st ~s dile:~ma of nesc~;i~ people a~~~a yot not :~i2ti~; ths~ s..nd i~olden cannot hrsak co~pletely a:~ay from vrl~at i~e kno~rs is pho~y. Tha casual phr~a '~if ~rou ~a nt to kno~ t~~e truthr·, ~hicrs 3~alden often ropaats, suggests tbat in his ~orl~. very few people do. yhe languags is an suthss:tic srtistic rendering of a ty~ro of i~.for~, cvlloquial, teo~,ge i~:,~sr~.ca~~ c~rs.Z sf Qec~. . lt is 3trong.ly typical, yet o~''tan so~as~bat i~~:iividual; it cru~.e and sla~y, i~precise, ii:zite,tive, yet oc~asio~lly i~sgi~tiva al~,d affected tcs~rar~. st~Ws,rdization. 'c~y t:~s stros~;; efforts of achools. ~e lanr~ua;s :~~a.s not ~~ ~.~it :en for ivssl£, but as a ps.st of a gr@ater -.~ha'1 a, ~·~e ~ok is tha ~rork of a cor~sorvative :rhfl is not izr~erestsd in overthroc~ing ex~sti~,g institutiorzs, b~tt in ~rroviding a deceut ~wrld for sensitive youtl~s, ~ho ars not stro~g-willed snough: ta flaunt tr~d.ition. ibe st~ of sueh a boy~·s cQ~tz~g reluetar~tlg and paiz~xlly tv tsrms ~l.th society~ - this is ~s;'~ ingsr·s satiricai pratest agaiuact thosa ~ho threatsn t~ tranquilit~ and ordsr ot the ~rorld, i~t order to ~'gst aomsmhere". He can~t aecspt dg~namic world-shakerss who are too atro~ motivatad by r,~ateris.listic gosis. :ie ~ants a cizaractar ~rho haa an r e~~raordir~az-,~ capscitg to "ga somewhars~, and choos~s nat to ues it. The tsndeacy of the iook i.a to disaoutrage a fruetrated yot~h·s hoge t~t hs may improve his situation bg flight~" T~aix~ and Salinger gsFve us two books; in them i884 and 1951 speak to us in the idiom ani accent of tao ;~outh~'ttl tragelers ~rho have earned their passports to literary immortality.