James Lundquist


AGAINST OBSCENITY

The Catcher in the Rye appeared in a sober and realistic time, a period when (by comparison with the 1960s, at any rate) there was a general disenchantment with ideologies, with schemes for the salvation of the world. Salinger's novel, like the decade for which it has become emblematic, begins with the words, "If you really want to hear about it," 1 words that imply a full, sickening realization that something has happened that perhaps most readers would not want to know about. What we find out about directly in the novel is, of course, what has happened to Salinger's hero-narrator, Holden Caulfield; but we also find out what has happened generally to human ideas on some simple and ultimate questions in the years following World War II. Is it still possible to reconcile self and society? Is it any longer possible to separate the authentic from the phony? What beliefs are essential for survival? What is the role of language in understanding the nature of our reality? Is it possible to create value and endow the universe with meaning? That Salinger deals with these questions in one way or another points to a problem with The Catcher in the Rye that has often been ignored or simply not taken seriously—that the climate of ideas surrounding the novel is dense, and that the book is not just the extended and anguished cries of a wise-guy adolescent whose main trouble is that he does not want to grow up.

From the start in The Catcher in the Rye, we are struck with the bleakness of Holden Caulfield's life. His existence seems so gratuitous and contingent, so absurd and without apparent meaning that we wonder where Salinger could possibly go with such a story (or why he would want to go anywhere with it). Holden is so full of despair and loneliness that he is literally nauseated most of the time. He realizes how different he is from other people, yet his own personality barely exists. He is filled with a penetrating nothingness, and for all the advice he gets, no one can tell him what he must do. There is no rational way he can discover a way out of his dilemma, yet he must take action of some sort, and suicide is not it.

____________________
From J. D. Salinger ( New York: Ungar, 1979), pp. 37-53, 55-68.

-114-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Holden Caulfield
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Major Literary Characters *
  • Holden Caulfield *
  • Contents *
  • The Analysis of Character ix
  • Editor's Note xv
  • Introduction i
  • Critical Extracts 5
  • Critical Essays 41
  • The Language of the Catcher in the Rye 41
  • Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield: the Situation of the Hero 50
  • On J. D. Salinger's Novel 58
  • The Saint as a Young Man 64
  • Character and Detail in the Catcher in the Rye 74
  • Allie and Phoebe 80
  • The Catcher in the Rye 87
  • "Don't Ever Tell Anybody Anything" 105
  • Against Obscenity 114
  • In Memoriam: Allie Caulfield 132
  • Adlerian Theory and the Catcher in the Rye 144
  • Holden and the Cold War 153
  • Contributors 166
  • Bibliography 169
  • Acknowledgments 173
  • Index 177
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 182

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.