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Entering Adulthood in Catcher in the Rye

Entering Adulthood in "Catcher in the Rye"

J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is the story of a sixteen-year-old boy named Holden Caulfield. He comes from quite a wealthy family, has attended several private preparatory schools, but has been expelled from all of them. In the beginning of the book, Christmas is drawing near, and Holden has been kicked out of Pencey Prep because he has failed most of his subjects. He does not want to tell his parents yet, so he decides not to go home until the beginning of the Christmas vacation. Instead, he spends three days in New York at a hotel. The whole story is about Holden's three days in New York where he desperately seeks contact. He wants to talk to someone about how he feels, so he tries to buy drinks for a taxi driver, talks to people on the train, calls his former girlfriend, and even pays for a prostitute, so she will talk to him. Nobody seems to understand him or why he feels the way he does. He has been having mental problems, particularly after his brother's death, and after his three days in New York, he has a nervous breakdown and has to go to a mental hospital. Actually, the whole story is a flashback because Holden is telling his story in the hospital. In The Catcher in the Rye, the writer uses first person narration so that it is Holden himself who is talking. Holden actually addresses the reader by saying things like “If you really want to hear about it...” and “I forgot to tell you about that” (Salinger 1).

On his introduction page of The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger writes “To My Mother” as a dedication of the novel to his mother. His novel was first published on July 16, 1951. This novel originally sold for $3.00 a copy and was selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club (Whitfield 567). Two weeks after it was first printed, it had to be reprinted five times. In the next three months, it was reprinted three more times. According to Whitfield,
His book stayed on the best-seller list for thirty weeks, though never above fourth place. Costing $0.75, the Bantam paperback edition appeared in 1964. By 1981, when the same...

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