Against Obsenity Essay Research Paper Looking back

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Against Obsenity Essay, Research Paper Looking back, one can now discern at least four phases in Salinger s career. His early stories generally portray characters that feel estranged and marooned because of World War II. The Catcher in the Rye and Salinger s attempt in that book to deal with estrangement and isolation through a Zen-inspired awakening and lonely benevolence represent his second phase. The third phase, seen in Nine Stories involves bringing together the principles of Zen art and the tradition of the short story. The fourth phase is one of which Salinger s work becomes more and more experimental, resulting in the philosophical mood of his last two books, Franny and Zooey and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters: and Seymour: An Introduction. These four stages

indicate that Salinger should be read as a writer who is seeking solutions, as a writer who is trying to give direction to his thought based on an initial disturbing event; that event being World War II. (Encarta CD-ROM). The Catcher and the Rye appeared in a sober and realistic time, a period when there was a general disenchantment with ideologies, with schemes of solution of the world. Salinger s novel, like the decade for which it has become emblematic, begins with the words, If you really want to hear about, words that imply a full, sickening realization that something has happened that perhaps most readers would not want to know about. Salinger questions life, survival, and adolescence throughout the story. That Salinger deals with these questions in one way or another

points to a problem with The Catcher and the Rye that has often been ignored or simply not taken seriously; that the climate of ideas surrounding the novel is dense, and that the book is not just about the extended and anguished cries of a wise-guy adolescent whose main trouble is that he does not want to grow up (Lundquist 81). The way Salinger sees the world is stated in the novel s most famous line: If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn t rub out even half of the f*** you signs in the world. (Salinger 262) It is ironic that this sentence is the one that is most responsible for the various bannings of the novel in the years following its appearance. The Detroit Police did not understand Salinger s point at all when they pulled the book out of the city s bookstores,

that controversial line, instead of being obscene itself, is directed, as almost all of Slinger s fiction is, against obscenity. It is Salinger s use of language that is one of the most distinctive qualities of The Catcher and the Rye, and an analysis of that language is essential to an appreciation of just what Salinger accomplishes artistically in the novel. Given the point of view from which the novel is told, Edward P.J. Corbett argues in a sensible article on the whole matter of The Catcher and Rye censorship, and given the kind of character that figures as the hero, no other language is possible. The integrity of the novel demanded such language. It is not simply a matter of realizing that Holden s language would not seem at all unusual or shocking to a real-life

prep-school boy. His swearing is habitual and so unconsciously ritualistic that it contributes to, rather than diminishes the theme of innocence that runs through out the novel. In addition, Holden is characterized as a desperate bravado; he wants o appear older than he is. His rough language fits in with his concept of the corrupt adult world. With Corbett, Holden s way of talking is, it must be realized a device. Salinger s genius does derive in large part from his ability as a literary ventriloquist. He is a writer concerned with messages, with stressing moral points and suggesting ways to move from despair to illumination. Holden Caufield thus comes to embody Salinger s thought, but the language Salinger chooses to give him is so artfully controlled that the vice seems to