What is an example of allusion in The Catcher and the Rye?

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Allusion is to make a reference to something, or use something as an example of a thought.

The most important allusion in The Catcher in the Rye is precisely in Chapter 22, as Holden heard the Robbie Burns song: "Coming though the Rye," and Phoebe asks Holden basically what he wants to do with it, and he explains that he sees kids playing in the rye and he wants to be the catcher before they fall off its cliff.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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You don't have to read long to find an example of allusion in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.  There's one in the opening sentence.  Holden Caulfield, the narrator, begins his story with what he is not going to write about:  where he was born and how lousy his childhood was and how his parents were occupied before they had him.  He sums up what he is not going to write about with an allusion: 

...all that David Copperfield kind of crap.

He's alluding to David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.  The narrator is not going to write a Victorian-like, Dickens-like, heavy on the description and heavy on the detail portrait of abuses he suffered during childhood.  For one, he didn't even tell that personal kind of stuff to his brother when he saw him.  Secondly, his parents are nice, though they are quite touchy.


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carrigenm | eNotes Newbie

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