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An exploration of the literary devices used by JDK Slinger In the “Catcher In The Rye” to communicate the theme of growing up and how relevant this idea Is In the 21st century. One of the dominant themes in the “Catcher in the Rye”, by JDK Slinger, is growing up and how difficult it is.
The author communicates this theme through various literary devices, including: characterization, symbolism and a key incident. The idea Slinger creates is very identifiable to most readers, despite their life experiences being very different to Holder’s.
Moreover, even though the novel is set in the sass’s and is a entrants to contemporary society, the reader can still find things to identify with, because Slinger uses such a timeless Idea. The “Catcher In the Rye” Is centered around three days of the life of the mall protagonist, Holder Coalfield, who Is 16 when the novel begins.
The novel Is set In post-war New York in the sass’s. The story is narrated by Holder who has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Holder tells the story of how he leaves Pence Prep – a school in which he was expelled from for failing four out of five classes – and spends a few nights alone in New York.
Slinger uses effective characterization to explore how Holder finds growing up painful and difficult.
Holder is frightened of maturing because of his interpretation of the adult word and so he detaches himself from all adults. He refers to all adults as “phonies”, this Is because he generalizes all adults, thinking they must all be hypocritical and false. Slinger uses Holder’s physical appearance to emphasis his emotional side, “I’m six-foot-two-and-a-half and I have grey hair.
He seems to be old, physically, but Inside he Is still Just a child, this reinforces the Idea that his body Is ailing him to grow up, but his mind is telling him to resist, and stay as innocent as possible for as long as possible. Slinger even uses his name to show his youthfulness , Holder Coalfield can be broken up into ‘Hold-on’ as if he is not ready to grow up, and that it is too difficult for him to handle. And ‘Call’ is apart of the amnion, which protects the baby’s head during birth, this relates to Holder as he is metaphorically protected by this and does not mature as a result.
Slinger communicates the theme of growing up through the central character, Holder, as he is at the stage where he should be growing up and maturing but does not. Slinger uses Holder’s personality and his appearance to contrast how Holder finds growing up difficult and painful. Holder’s younger siblings are also key characters in the novel that Slinger uses in order to communicate ten theme. Allele, Holder’s Trotter, oleo AT leukemia years before the novel was set. He was very unique, he had fiery red hair, and was left handed.
Holder speaks of him on many occasions in the novel, he aspires to be more like Allele, because he believed he was the nicest and smartest of all the Coalfields “he was about fifty times as intelligent”. Part of Allies enduring appeal for Holder is that e is forever frozen in time, in childhood, exactly where Holder wants to be. Phoebe, is quite like Allele, she is a child, and possesses similar attributes – her intellect and hair color. Before we meet Phoebe, we rely on Holder’s descriptions of her. Holder looks up to her, he believes she is the only trustworthy person in a world of “phonies”.
Holder has categorized life into two sections; childhood, being innocent and where Holder wants to stay, and the cruel adult world, where everyone becomes shallow and hypocritical and where Holder wants to avoid. When Phoebe is introduced into the narrative, she complicates Holder’s thoughts. Even she knows that growing up is mandatory, and becomes angry with Holder as he stays immature, “She gets very emotional, I swear to God. ” As this young girl is presented to us, and is able to understand maturity, Holder’s stunted maturity seems a little foolish.
However we can sympathies with Holder as he feels unable to mature and is being criticized by the one person he truly cares about. Slinger uses this contrast of the characters to emphasis the difficulties of growing up. Slinger not only uses symbolism to communicate the main theme of growing up, but also to highlight the main feelings of Holder. When Phoebe asks him want we wants to be in life, he replies with the image from a Robert Burns’ song of being the “catcher in the rye”, to protect children from falling off the cliff as they play in the field of rye.
It is highly ironic that Holder swaps ‘somebody meet a body comic’ thro’ the rye’ for ‘somebody catch a body’ because the song now has the opposite meaning. The main lyrics ask if it is wrong to have a sexual encounter in a far-away field without it leading to anything, but Holder completely changes the meaning. Holder wants to ‘catch’ children, who play in the field, before the fall out of innocence onto the knowledge of sex and other adult things that he, personally, does not understand. Also the fact that Phoebe is the one to point out the real lyrics, symbolisms that she is not as innocent as Holder’s idealistic thoughts of children.
Because his mind has blocked out the real lyrics, this makes him seem more innocent, childish and afraid of the adult world. The use of the red hunting hat symbolisms Holder’s desire to be a child for longer. He wears the hat to feel unique and an individual, because it is so different and vibrant. The color of the hat is the same as Phoebe’s and Allies hair, red. This symbolisms how Holder looks up to his younger siblings, and how he wants to be more like them, as they represent innocence and purity in his eyes. The museum of natural history also communicates the idea that Holder wants to continue to be a child.
Holder liked the museum as it was unchanging, The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. The museum represents his ‘catcher in the rye’ world, in which no-one ever changes, and everything is true, simple and idealistic to him. Holder is scared of change, mainly because of his brother’s death, so he wishes everything lull always stay ten same – Including ml – so nee does not nave to deal Walt negative changes in his life. Slinger uses a key incident in the novel in order to establish that Holder wishes to stay a child for as long as possible.
In chapter 13, Holder is met with the possibility of a sexual encounter with a prostitute named Sunny, but turns it down. He admits to being “a little nervous” about the whole ordeal, as he is a virgin. He comes too realization, that he wants it to be more special. What he learns with Sunny is that he prefers not to get there with a prostitute; I don’t think I could ever do it with somebody that sits in a stupid movie The whole scene is depressing rather than erotic for Holder, so he makes up excuses for not being able to go through with it.
He realizes has to get to know a girl, and like her a lot, before he is comfortable with that kind of intimacy. On the other hand, it shows he is not emotionally ready for sexual encounters, he talks about it and thinks about it, but in reality he feels too young. This develops the theme of growing up as he has the chance to do the things he says, but he does not take it, meaning he is not et mature enough to handle this kind of adult behavior. This is more like what a child would do when faced with something they are not comfortable doing.
And thus shows that when Holder is given the chance to mature, he rejects it, and keeps his innocence and his virginity intact. The idea established in the novel – that it is difficult to grow up – is identifiable in the 21st century. The book may be from another century, the language may be different, but the central idea that Slinger uses is timeless. Holder goes through strange ordeals in comparison to most people, however the reader can connect to Holder as hey will have had to mature at some point in their life, even if it was not as painful as it was for Holder’s character.
The majority of the readers feel connected to the story, even if their life is extremely different, and they can relate to their own life in one way or another. JDK Slinger develops the main theme of growing up throughout the “Catcher in the Rye” using successful devices. He develops Holder as a character, uses symbols to relate to the childish nature of Holder, and uses a key incident to establish that Holder wishes to remain a child for as long as possible.