What is a great idea for a thesis statement for J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye?  

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to write a good thesis statement for an essay, a writer must decide on the topic or theme that will be discussed. Also, consider the structure of the essay. Is it persuasive, descriptive, or argumentative? Once a theme is settled on, then a thesis statement can be written to guide the writer's pen. If the assignment asks for a student to write on Holden's personality, then that would certainly be the starting point and main focus of the statement. If the assignment is to discuss the relevance of the title to the storyline, then a different focus would be needed. The following list has a few examples with different themes that could be used to create possible thesis statements for persuasive/argumentative essays:

1. Holden Caulfield, Salinger's teenage protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye, experiences a mental breakdown over a period of one weekend and lives to tell about it.

2. J.D. Salinger's book The Catcher in the Rye epitomizes the characteristics of a twentieth-century teenage boy's experience of life on the run.

3. The Catcher in the Rye bluntly introduces the secret thoughts, feelings and experiences of a teenage boy bound for a mental breakdown during a few day's rampage in New York City.

4. The Catcher in the Rye shows readers the confusion, fear, and loneliness of a teenage boy caught between his past and present while being fearful for the future.

5. The Catcher in the Rye revolves around one teenage boy's discontent with society, his confusion about life's experiences, and his curiosity about adulthood.



gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A good thesis statement must address the main point of the essay and present an idea that can be argued and proven throughout the remainder of the paper. Thesis statements appear at the end of the introductory paragraph and are determined by the kind of paper you are writing, which can either be analytical, expository, or argumentative. It is also important to remember that a thesis statement should be specific, not a general, undeniable statement. Thesis statements must make a claim that others can dispute. The following are examples of a few thesis statements concerning J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye:

1. Holden Caulfied's anxious, cynical personality is a direct result of experiencing extremely traumatic events at a young age.

2. Holden's aversion to society is a critique of America's obsession with entertainment and affinity for material wealth.

3. Holden's highly critical, jaded perspective of American society stems from his fear of becoming an adult.

4. Holden's numerous contradictions reveal his internal struggle to fit into a highly competitive, superficial society.

5. Holden exacerbates his problems by intentionally entering compromising situations, which leave him further isolated and alienated from those who truly care about him.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A thesis statement is simply a sentence that summarizes a thesis or the major claim one is making in a particular piece of writing. A good thesis is one which can be argued. In other words, the statement that Holden is a rebellious teenager would not be a good thesis as it is a statement with which it would be impossible to disagree. The problem with creating a thesis for this work is that as it is a standard school text and much literary criticism has already been written about it, creating a thesis that is original, rather than trite, is quite difficult.

One interesting approach might be to note that Salinger wrote the novel when he was serving as a soldier in World War II. Holden, although not a soldier, has experienced the death of his younger brother Allie, a name that is similar to the "Allies" the faction Salinger was fighting for in the War. Thus one might create a thesis statement revolving around how Holden's character is shaped by the same sort of post-traumatic stress disorder affecting the soldiers Salinger fought with as a result of the death of those closest to them.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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