.. that Salinger is a literary phenomenon who created the dialect of a generation (qtd. Salinger CA 5-8: 998). For the first time, a generation had an author who seemed to understand them, who somehow could capture their values, aspirations, and ultimately define their outlook on society. Maxwell Geismar stated that Salinger accomplishes this task of perceiving the young generations in a way that nobody since F. Scott Fitzgerald [has] done as well (qtd.
in Salinger CA 999). Salinger and his novel The Catcher in the Rye became a voice of a generation, a generation who believed that phoniness is the cardinal sin. Aside from the hero Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, the short stories about the Glass family left their own mark on this new society. Of this new society the Glass family children, hypersensitive illusion roisters, were its heroes and heroines, and the unattractive ‘Fat Lady’ was Jesus Christ (Salinger CA 998). Although the positive impact of Eastern philosophy in Salinger’s later works is questionable to some, there are many critics that believe that Salinger is now following his own precedent, by not being ‘phony’ and writing for the masses, but rather by writing what he truly believes.
However, in the opinion of many critics, positive and negative alike, Salinger is considered a serious critic of their world (Salinger CA 999). Salinger is not so much a writer who depicts life as one who celebrates it, an accurate characterization of the humor and love in his work -Martin Green (Gorden 2038) There is no doubt that a generation was greatly changed by the literature of J. D. Salinger. His literature was a mirror of sorts that let a generation see themselves, as they really were.
But this mirror has been passed down to the following generations and with each generation that passes sees its each has a unique reflection. The reflection is society, and like the reflection or not, at least now one can understand how to find it- within. Interview When I first learned that I was going to conduct an interview about my current author of study, Jerome David Saliger, a name instantly popped into my head as a potentially excellent conversant. My good friend and bible study leader of six years, Nace Lanier, was perfect for fulfilling the spot of interviewee. His credentials include a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary social science at James Madison University and a Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Undoubtedly Nace was up for the task.
Ironically, about six months ago I discovered that somehow Nace was deprived during high school and had never studied Salinger’s most famous work, The Catcher in the Rye. Because it is my favorite book I strongly urged him to read it. After taking up my offer, Nace, like myself, fell in love with the novel and for a good three weeks it was the topic of nearly all of our conversations. So as I sat down in front of my computer to conduct my online interview, I expected an enlightening experience. I was not surprised. There is no doubt that The Catcher in the Rye had a huge effect on the generation that embraced it, so I began by questioning Nace about what he thought could have caused such an effect on our generation and the generation of the Fifties.
Almost instantaneously Nace replied that Salinger identified a need, the need for acceptance and love that seemed absent to this generation that lacked a real family and the unconditional love that such a family would bring. What Salinger did was make the story much like reality with even the popular people struggling for meaning and love. Through these characters, Salinger conveyed his messages. Each character represented a message. Through the eyes of the main character, Holden Caulfield, the reader is meets Sally Hayes, a beautiful girl who represents the shallowness of society and with Robert Ackley, the class nerd, who embodies the equality Salinger advocates amongst the different classes of society. Another character technique of Salinger’s is the incorporation of children into each of his stories.
Holden’s little sister, Pheobe, is an ancient soul of six years and perfectly demonstrates childhood innocence. Salinger, then, uses his child figures to deomonstate how innocence is lost in the hassle of everyday life. Nace goes on to expand by stating that children are always a symbol and reality of hope, the hope that is eventually lost in a society that no longer cares. Salinger writes of a society that no longer holds true to the moral codes of yesteryear but instead shows no respect for anyone. This downward spiral of society can even be seen in the language that is integrated into the work. With the use of a rich New York dialect and the use of some popular language of the time, Salinger is able to connect these characters to the reader. Nace stated that the dialect and language was [Salinger’s] way of making the work true and accessible to those readers who could relate.
The language seemed to strengthen the constant narrative dialogue but equally to force the reader to focus on key parts of the novel. This method is the author’s way of pointing the reader’s headin the diction he himself chooses. This society frustrates Holden to the point that he fanaticizes that he be a catcher in the playground of a rye field that sits next to a cliff. Holden dreams of letting the children in the playground play until one got too close to the cliff and he is there to catch the children before they fall off. The allusion is Salinger’s way of showing that society does need to care.
Even Holden, who can almost not bear to live, still want’s to save the virginity of innocence for his little sister. The symbolism begins to become abundant. At this point Holden has evolved into a much more mature character than is first presented to the reader. His hope becomes the Christ figure, says Nace. He wants what is best for the children and his society but in the long run it is this same society that holds Holden back.
Holden never loses sight, but at the end he winds up in a mental institution. This ending resembles Salinger’s own true life story in a way as he is now living in seclusion in upstate New York and has made no statement or appearance in the last fifteen years. Little is known about Salinger lately, and I am sure that is the way he wants it to be. This reclusive lifestyle he has lead has kept him out of the limelight but many are still reading his works. The Catcher in the Rye is now considered one of the fifty best novels of the century and the message is still lying inside its covers, waiting to be discovered by ever-new audiences.
Bibliography Works Cited Davis, Robert Con, ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 56. Detroit: Gail Research Inc., 1989.
French, Warren. J. D. Salinger. Boston: Twayne Publishers; 1976.
Gorden, Linda S. J. D. Salinger, Critical Survey of Short Fiction, R.E Vol. 5. Ed.
Frank N. Magill. Pasedena, CA: Salem Press;1993. pp. 2038-2047.
Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1951 Salinger, J. D., Contemporary Authors Vol.
5-8. Eds. Barbara Harte, Carolyn Riley. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company; 1969. pp.
997-999 Salinger, J. D., Short Story Criticism Vol. 2 Ed. Sheila Fitzgerald. Detroit, Michigan: Gale; 1989.
pp. 288-320 *. Assorted Quotes. http://www.quoteland.com. Visited on February 4, 2000.