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How would someone describe "diction" in The Catcher in the Rye? What does this mean?

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chatank | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 17, 2009 at 1:34 PM via web

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How would someone describe "diction" in The Catcher in the Rye? What does this mean?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 17, 2009 at 3:07 PM (Answer #1)

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The term "diction" is a literary term that refers to the author's choice of specific words. For instance, an author might choose one word over another, even though both words mean essentially the same thing. In studying an author's diction, or word choice, you can make some observations. For instance, does the writer use a lot of slang expressions? If so, why? Does the writer choose unusual, sophisticated words or simple, down-to-earth words? Again, why? For what purpose?

In The Catcher in the Rye, look at Holden's language. What words does he use frequently? Why do you think he uses these specific words? How does he use language in general? Does he have any other purpose than to communicate information?

The writer's diction can achieve different purposes. It can reveal character, and it can help establish tone or mood in a story or novel. To study diction, you have to become a "word detective."

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atyourservice | Student, Grade 11 | TA | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted September 22, 2014 at 10:49 PM (Answer #2)

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Diction: “Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about while I sat in that vomity-looking chair in the lobby.” (89)

Diction is the choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing. It helps shape up the character by giving them a specific way of speech.

For example in the sentence above, the word vomity-looking chair is a choice of word that suits Holden's character, there are many other ways he could have described that couch, but his choice of words makes us feel who the character is.

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