Catcher in the Rye Essay

J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye, should long be remembered as an American classic. Although some may not consider it one of the most
eloquently written stories of its time, it certainly captures the reader’s attention. Salinger is able to incorporate philosophical views throughout the
story in terms of Holden’s ethical code; at the same time, he keeps the reader entranced with radical turns of events and Holden’s character.
As far as ethics is concerned, Holden has his fair share of bad moral judgments. He demonstrates a very negative principle when he decides, “…
I’d get the hell out of Pency-right that same night and all. I mean not wait till Wednesday or anything. I just didn’t want to hang around any more” (51).

In this simple action, Holden gives himself away as a man of little reasoning. He shows that he has no desire to have his life run by authority, so he packs up his belongings and leaves at will. A second show of disagreeable morals is presented in the form of Holden’s drinking habit, “I ordered a Scotch and soda, which is my favorite drink, next to frozen Daiquiris” (85). Drinking in itself does not constitute moral corruption, yet drinking at Holden’s young age, does. Holden turns to liquor as a scapegoat, and has failed to see the error in his ways.

Although the prior two offenses are large, perhaps the most obvious flaw in character for Holden was his intention to entertain a prostitute, “I kept hoping she’d be good-looking. I didn’t care too much, though. I sort of wanted to get it over with” (93). Whereas drinking is considered deviant only because of Holden’s young age, the purchase of a prostitute at any age cannot be condoned. For whatever reason, Holden did not use sound judgment in deciding to engage in the company of a harlot. Obviously, Holden needs some ethical guidance, but perhaps not all is lost with him. Throughout the novel, Holden finds a way to redeem his own.

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