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Catcher In the Rye Use of Lan

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Catcher In the Rye- Use of Lan

Not many great novels were produced during the post World War II era. Perhaps the greatest novel published was J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. This book, just like all other great works, was met by scathing criticism and unyielding praise. Many literary critics marveled at Salinger's genius use of language to make Holden Caulfield, the main character, unbelievably realistic. Through Holden's thoughts and dialogues, Salinger successfully created a teenage boy. Because of that The Catcher in the Rye became one of the few great post World War II works.

The language used in The Catcher in the Rye has been a topic of controversy in the literary critic's realm. Holden Caulfield's thoughts and comments serve to deepen his personality and provide entertainment. Salinger wanted to create a typical teenager but also wanted Holden to be an individual. Like most teenagers, Holden speaks in trite sentences however he also uses words in places that were then uncommon. Holden often leaves his sentences dangling with words like "and all" and "or anything." Often he uses those phrase to extend some indescribable emotion or action like "' how my parents were occupied and all before they had me" or "'they're nice and all." But many times there is no significance at all to the expressions as in "'was in the Revolutionary War and all," "It was December and all" and "'no gloves or anything." (Salinger 5-7)

Holden has many expressions which appear consistently throughout the novel. Some places, the expressions only serve to make Holden more realistic, other places Holden is trying to reinforce his values. Holden repeatedly comments on his hatred toward phonies. That is one thing that Holden hates more than almost anything. That could be the reason he frequently confirms a statement with "I really do," "It really does," or "if you want to know the truth." He also confirms comments by repeating them twice like "She likes me a lot. I mean she's quite fond of me." (Salinger 141) or "He was a very nervous guy- I mean a very nervous guy." (Salinger 165) He uses different phrases and styles to give a more factual backing to his comments, thus preventing himself from seeming like a phony.

Holden's speech usually stays away vulgar and obscene. Whenever he says words like "ass," it is merely teenage vernacular for a part of the human anatomy. He doesn't say it to be offensive. "Ass" is simply another word Holden uses to better convey ideas. He can mean cold by saying "freezing my ass off," or incompetence "in a half-assed way," or even disbelief "Game, my ass." His vocabulary contains many words that are religious but are not used that way. Holden says "hell" to mean "to a great extent" when describing something: "We had a helluva good time," "old as hell," "playful as hell." He uses words that pertain to the divine such as "God's sake," "God" and "goddam," however, he never means it in a blasphemous manner. They are just parts of his speech. He uses those words casually when referring to his "goddam hunting cap" or saying somebody is a "goddam moron." For more emotional circumstances, Holden reserves "Chrissake" or "Jesus Christ." Even though Holden is not too religious, he never uses "Chrissake" unless he is depressed or enraged. For extreme anger Holden keeps "sonuvabitch" ready. After his fight with Stradlater, Holden continually refers to him as a "moron sonuvabitch." His anger is also reflected in the sudden increase in appearance of "goddam." While the words Holden uses may not be proper he is not trying to be sacrilegious. Salinger is merely using the language to make Holden seem like a normal teenager and also to reflect Holden's state of mind.

A popular word in Holden's youth was "crap." It was a word that could be inserted into any part of a sentence, just as Holden did. He used it to mean a dirty substance "I spilled some crap all over my gray flannel," or miscellaneous items "I was putting in my galoshes and crap." He also used it to mean something undesirable "The show was on the crappy side." Holden also used a couple phrases like "shoot the crap," and "chuck the crap" to mean chit-chat. Many characters in literature use the adjective old a lot. Gatsby, from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, used it. Holden uses it in the same manner as Gatsby. Both of them use "old" towards the familiar or as a term of endearment. Gatsby would always refer to ...

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