Posts Tagged ‘J.D. Salinger’

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Holden Caulfield

April 30, 2008

J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye is a difficult piece to write about well, and even harder to write something original about. The story is set as a flashback and takes place over three days in which the protagonist Holden Caulfield is expelled from boarding school, decides to leave early and returns to New York to stay in a hotel, while becoming progressively disillusioned about societal roles and expectations. Through this he becomes increasingly unhinged by the events around him and suffers from a mental breakdown. The plot takes on a tangential feel as one event triggers another digression on Caulfield’s path from prep school to emotional collapse, but the structure is deceptively concise and directed while appearing lateral.

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Salinger’s Internal/External Observations

May 31, 2007

I have been a long time admirer of Salinger’s work, and benefited from this ten-year later re-examination of his short stories. I am impressed by how his work captures the slightly fractured psyche of modernism in the post war years, while still maintaining a freshness and relevance for a contemporary reader. In Nine Stories, I am interested in Salinger’s use of exterior detail and observation to capture a character. Often these stories offer just a glimpse into a small interaction between characters. Sometimes whole sections of the narrative are left up to the reader to fill in, but the way Salinger describes specific tics or mannerisms gives us insight into that character’s inner life. The descriptions of specific body language or behavior works almost like stage direction, but gives an intimately observed perspective to the characters. Read the rest of this entry ?