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In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, what are 4 things Holden is critical of?

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bambeyxoxo | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 24, 2013 at 11:54 PM via web

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In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, what are 4 things Holden is critical of?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 25, 2013 at 4:51 PM (Answer #1)

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Holden, Salinger's protagonist, is critical of many things pertaining to social issues of the 1950s. As with many teenagers who analyze and try to determine their own place in the world, criticizing those around them helps them organize their thoughts and perceptions. The things that Holden criticizes can be centered around other people. For example, other characters with whom Holden comes into contact represent different social issues: first, Mr. Spencer, the history teacher, represents academic authority as wells as people who are sick and of old age; next, D.B. Caulfield, his older brother, who has become a successful writer in Hollywood, represents one from his own generation who has sold out to conformity and prosperity; then, his prejudiced fraternity brothers who ostracize those who are different from themselves and who are also conformists and elitists; and finally, his own father, who is a successful lawyer and represents authority, prosperity, good education, and conformity as well. From this list of male role-models, it seems that the four main things Holden is critical of are social conformity, prosperity and education, authority, and prejudice.

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