Does the language of "The Catcher in the Rye" convey the impression of someone trying desperately to express the truth?

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kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

As the previous poster mentioned, Holden has a very hard time accepting the truth from anyone else, but he also gives indications that he is trying to express the truth of his situation without actually being able to do so.  Perhaps it is this constant disappointment in the inability of others to tell the truth that drives him to tell the story the way he does rather than simply saying right out that he is in a mental institution and has had a breakdown.

Instead he tells his story in a retrospective fashion without speculating as to why he is now in a mental institution and allowing the reader to judge for themselves whether the truth is coming out or not.

The other way that Holden tells the truth is that he places all the blame for any of his inconsistency and problems at other people's feet.  He doesn't diagnose his own problem, again allowing the reader to make the truth out in whichever way they choose.

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elmk99's profile pic

elmk99 | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

I would have to argue that the language of the Catcher in the Rye is somewhat double sided. On the one hand, we have the protagonist desparately searching for some type of meaning in his coming of age tale. However, if we look at the language of Holden, it shows a certainly reluctance to accept the truth. He tries to find meaning and substance in his personal relationships while at the same time, he doesn't want to accept the truth of anything. I would argue that the language is that of classic denial. I think this is also paralleled in his unwillingness to accept any consequences for his actions. While there is an arguement to be made for his language portraying some desperate search for truth, I think upon delving deeper into the matter, he puts up this front of searching for truth because he deep down already knows the truth but is unwilling to accept it.

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