The Catcher in the Rye Essay

When you research essay topics, you can find some interesting literature to write an essay on. Just about everyone has at least heard of The Catcher in the Rye, if not read the story. J.D. Salinger was the author and it was undoubtedly his most famous work. Oddly enough, the book didn’t get much attention when it was first published, in 1951. The story was initially intended for adults, but is now very popular with younger folks, as well. It hardly seems that older people would find much enthusiasm in a story about an unhappy and confused young man. Perhaps Mr. Salinger chose the wrong audience to begin with… The Catcher in the Rye essay might reflect the content of the story as compared to the original target audience. A deep, analytical essay can prove to be rewarding to write. It is considered by some experts to be among the best 100 novels of the 20th century. With sales still around 250,000 per year, it is one of the most widely read novels of all time.

The protagonist, Holden Caulfield is very much like young men of today. He doesn’t want to stay in school, believing there is something better waiting “out there”. His detachment in telling the story mirrors his feeling of alienation from the world of both adults (which is new to him) and childhood (from which he wants to escape). After quitting school, the conflict within his mind becomes clearer as the days go by.

Three tourists to New York catch his attention and he spends time getting superficially acquainted with them. The three young ladies like to dance, so he dances with them, expecting nothing further from the brief relationship. When the urge to engage in a sexual encounter arises, he finds a prostitute and promptly changes his mind, preferring to just talk with her instead. After the “usual” fee is paid, the young prostitute demands more money, since she wasn’t generally paid just to talk. Her pimp (the elevator operator) intervenes and beats him up to get more money. Holden has learned a valuable lesson, although he isn’t yet aware of it. This is a very important point to make in a Catcher in the Rye essay.

The most telling part of Holden Caulfield’s personality, and necessary for a “The Catcher in the Rye” essay to be complete, is his visit with his sister, Phoebe. Their brother, Allie, had died, leaving them both scarred from the loss they shared. Holden and Phoebe talk while their parents are gone, further illustrating the distance between the young man and his parents. He has some wild imaginings which he shares with his sister. He wants to go away and imagines greatness awaiting him. When Phoebe insists on accompanying him, perhaps he realizes it would be a mistake and decides not to leave, after all. His lack of focus on his future and indecision concerning his plans, are typical of the angst felt by most teenagers at one time or another.

A visit to his former teacher, Mr. Antolini, serves to add confusion to Holden’s already mixed up thought processes. Antolini spent his time drinking heavily while expressing his philosophy of life to the younger man. Were his encouraging words simply those of friendship or perhaps he had other designs…? The approach was very delicate and Holden, himself, wasn’t sure what the man was doing. He didn’t fall into the trap of “experimentation” that can cause a whole new set of problems for a young man.

At the end, a Catcher in the Rye essay has to contain the reason for the title. Why did Holden want to be a catcher in the rye? Was it a dream of being heroic? Or was it just something that sounded good to him? Regardless of essay length the paper should reveal answers to these questions.