In J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, how does the opening line "If you really want to hear about it..." intentionally lower the reader's expectations of the novel?

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

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The opening line of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye could lower a reader's expectations of the novel because the tone of voice seems melancholy or despondent. Also, it seems as if the narrator's voice brings an air of disappointment right from the beginning, as if the story were a waste of time. However, the opening line might also strike intrigue into the reader to want to know more about why the narrator is so down on it. The book follows a type of writing style that most writers of the middle twentieth century describe as a stream of consciousness. The first thought seems to be the best thought to writers like Salinger because that is where the most honest feelings are presented. Along those lines, one might understand better that the story that follows those lines will be as honest as possible, although strictly from Holden's limited understanding of the world. Brutal honesty, no matter how crass or blunt, was a new technique used by writers to confront the "phonies" of the world who merely live life without truly dealing with life's issues.


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