Use Of Language In Catcher In The — страница 2

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failing out of preparatory school and fears telling his parents. Because he did not do well in school, Holden may have felt as though no one ever took him seriously and realized his actions left him with no solid academic standing. Since Holden is essentially a failure at school with no serious friendships, he attempts to solidify some communication in asking for approval by stating “if you want to know the truth.” Holden wants people to believe him so he speaks to seek approval (Costello, 1990). Again, Salinger creates this speech pattern as believable for a common teenager, yet it also seems to belong individually to Holden. The Catcher in the Rye gained much of its notoriety for the language used in it, particularly the crude words (Gwynn, 1958). Like most colloquial uses

of body parts, accidents of birth, or religious connotations, Holden does not strictly make use of words in reference to their original meaning. The word “hell” is a staple of Holden’s vocabulary, and he uses it often with both positive and negative connotations. In one instance, he tells us he had a “helluva time,” when he and Phoebe sneaked away and had a good time shopping for shoes downtown. Other statements include “pretty as hell,” “playful as hell,” or “hot as hell.” Holden’s perception that situations were anything but normal in some relation to the extremes of the usage of “hell” is applied to both positive and negative situations. In each use of the word, Holden uses “hell” as a way to expresses the confusion of adolescence and his own

regular use of it illustrates his own extreme sensitivity as a character (Gwynn, 1958). As Holden’s experiences change, so does his use of crude language. When he is caught up in his own antics and is enraged, “sonuvabitch” and “bastard” frequently find their way into his vocabulary. However, when he addresses the reader as a narrator, Holden rarely, if ever, slips into his habitual use of swearing (Costello, 1990). “Sonuvabitch” is reserved for his extreme anger, as when he kept calling Stradlater a “moron sonuvabitch” for the boy’s ostensibly offensive treatment of Jane Gallagher. Again, Holden’s sporadic use of “sonuvabitch” in his angriest moments alerts the reader to the serious quality of his anger. Salinger carefully crafted such speech patterns

to help us identify Holden’s character without lengthy descriptions of such. Here, the offending words lets the reader know when Holden is most angry and the types of situations that make him so, thereby offering further insight into his character, often through the use of a single word. Holden’s regular use of curse words to describe his view of any given situation leaves the impression that his vocabulary is limited, as observed in one much younger than himself. However, Holden recognizes that he has a limited vocabulary and uncomprehendingly identifies it himself (Salzman, 1991). He makes use of cursing in an effort to add emphasis to his otherwise simplistic verbiage. For example, Holden says “That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a goddam toilet seat” (Salinger,

1951). The best reference Holden could think of was “toilet seat,” a simple item readily grasped by even young children. To give this simile more emphasis, Holden, as usual, tosses in a curse word. Holden makes another toilet-like reference when he says “He started handling my paper like it was a turd or something,” (Salinger, 1951) when referring to his teacher’s expressions and body language while picking up some written work Holden had done. “Turd” is a word a recently potty-trained child might use instead of a prep school teen. So, Holden not only admits to having a limited vocabulary, but he has a vocabulary seemingly limited to one even younger than his age. Holden’s regular use of cursing demonstates not only the depth of his emotion, but signals the reader

to the fact that he is caught in the stage where childhood and approaching maturity collide. He relates poorly to instances other than those from his early youth, and tries in vain to bridge the gap between adolescent and adult worlds with his use of profanity. He fails to notice that his cursing loses much of his intended rebellious impact by his overuse of the words. Rather than successfully rebelling against school or his parents, Holden appears sometimes tortured and pathetic, and sometimes just plain silly. This superficiality of youth leaves him with little ability to communicate because he relies so heavily on simple words and thoughts to express the majority of his feelings. While Holden’s teenage angst is apparent, Salinger carefully crafted Holden’s vocabulary to