J. D. Salinger: Contribution as American Author

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      J. D. Salinger (1919-2010), was a harbinger of new things to come in the 1960s. He has portrayed the dropouts of society. Born in New York City, and was educated at Valley Forge Military Academy, and New York and Columbia Universities. First, he published short stories in The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines during the early 1940s and served in the U.S. infantry during the World War II. He achieved huge literary success with the publication of his novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951).

      The Catcher in the Rye (1951) centered on a sensitive 16 year old Holden Caulfield, who flees his elite boarding school for the outside world of adulthood, only to become disillusioned by its materialism and phoniness. He narrates his own story of rebellion against the banality and “phoniness” of middle-class values. Expelled from his private school, in Pennsylvania, caustic but quixotic teenager goes to the New York City. He has unsuccessful encounter with prostitute which ends up in a skirmish with her pimp. The next day, he meets his old girlfriend Sally Hayes and takes her for skating; so his spirits lifted up. He suggests that the two of them should escape to the New England countryside. Sally rejects this impractical offer and Holden completely discouraged, gets drunk and gets sneaks home to see his sister Phoebe, telling her that he plans to “go West.” Later, that night he has an unsettling return on his former school teacher Mr. Antolini, who makes homosexual advances to him. The next morning he goes to his sister’s school to say goodbye to her but he is overwhelmed by his love for her and decides to stay on. Then, he has a nervous breakdown and tells his story as he recovers. When asked what he would like to be, Caulfield answers “the catcher in the rye,” misquoting a poem by Robert Bums. In his vision, he is a modern version of a white Knight, the sole preserver of innocence. He imagines a big field of rye so tall that a group of young children cannot see where they are running as they play their games. He is the only big person there: “I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff.” The fall over the cliff is equated with the loss of childhood and (especially sexual) innocence a persistent theme of the period.

      Other works - Nine Stories (1953) introduces the Glass family who reappears in, Franny and Zooey (1961), and Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters (1963), and Seymour An Introduction (1963), a collection of stories from The New Yorker. He announces that he writes only for personal diversion. The desire to preserve his privacy led him into a lengthy legal battle against biography of he wrote Ian Hamilton’s (1988). Since the appearance of one story in 1965, Salinger who lives in New Hampshire has been, absent from the American literary scene.

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