thereby forcing them to forfeit, becoming the first person in history to lose the big game WITHOUT BEING ON THE TEAM. Who wouldn’t wanna dsistance themselves from that humiliation?> you see this again and again in holdens vice and you also see other strategies of minimization of language as a form of self protection. I mean he describes his institutionalized self as “pretty run down”. He says that Ackley is sort of a nasty guy. He sort of strikes up a conversation with a cab driver., asking him what happens to the ducks in the pond when winter comes. Late in the novel he sort of guves his sister oheobe a kiss. In fact the phrase sort of
appearts in the novel 179 times. Also even 60 years later holdens voice still sounds authentic. Whioch is a function of grammar and word choice. After stradlater asks the expelled holden to write a composition for him because he quotes, “doesn’t know hwhere to put the commas” holden writes, “that’s something else that gives me a royal pain. I mean if youre good at writing compositions and somebody starts talking about commas. Stradlater was always doing that. He wanted you to think that the only reason HE was lousy at writing compositions was because he stuck all the commas in the wrong places. He was a littlebit like Ackley, that way” you see what holden did there? He stuck a comma in the wrong place. There shouldn’t technically be a comma before :that way: but it sounds right. But holdens greatest gift as a narrarator is that all these techniques of creating distance only makes it easier to empathize with him, especially when his defenses finally break down. Ii mean look for instance at this passage where hes talking bout his brother alies baseball glove: he had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere. In green ink. He wrote them on it so that hed have something to read while he was in the fiels and nobody was up at bat. Hes dead now.” The gutpunch of those last three words is brilliant. A present tense sentence in a past tense novel. We go from imagining a kid standing in the outfield reading poetry from his glove to knowing that this kid, is, dead. Not that he died or that he passed away but that he IS dead now. The tense reminds us that the dead don’t stop being dead; that they remain dead and that is how they haunt us. Or another example, look at the use of the word listen in this novel. Over and over again characters but especially holdenbegin scentences with LISTEN. “ listen do you feel like playing canasta? Holden asks Ackley. Ackley doesn’t. to luce he says “listen hey luce, hey youre one of those intellectual guys, I need your advice. Im in a terrific—“ and then luce cuts him off unable to listen even to the end of the sentence. But at the end of the novel holden says to phoebe, “listen, do you wanna go for a walk?” it takes her a while – they start out walking on opposite sides of the street – but they do go for a walk. Holden finallyu does get listened to. Maybe he realize that as youre reading or maybe you don’t but it works on you unconsciously regardless.
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- Fall '13
- The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, Joan Caulfield