What are five literary devices used in Chapter 1 of The Catcher in the Rye?

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emilyknight7 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One example of a literary device is hyperbole, which is an extreme exaggeration in order to make a point. Holden does this frequently (about a billion times, ha ha), such as in the first paragraph of the book, when he says, "my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

Another instance of a literary device is when Holden describes the weather as "cold as a witch's teat" in paragraph 8. This is a example of a simile, or a comparison of two things using the words "like" or "as."

Another literary device that persists throughout the story is Holden's use of antithesis, which is two statements that seem to mean the opposite of one another, paired together to create a contrast. Holden does this frequently, but the first time we see it is in paragraph 10 when he says, "That's also how I practically got t.b. and came out here for all these goddam checkups and stuff. I'm pretty healthy, though."

Additionally, Holden uses repetition frequently throughout the story. He repeats words, phrases, and ideas often, showing that he is preoccupied with them. For example, when he says that Dr. Thurmer's daughter knew what a "phony slob" (paragraph 4) he was, he is giving the readers the first of many instances of labeling things "phony." Authenticity is a concept that is very important to Holden and he shows this by repeating the word "phony."

Finally, Holden uses a litote in describing Thumer's daughter. A litote is an understatement, using a negative word (like "not") to imply the opposite meaning. In Holden's description of Selma, he says, "she wasn't exactly the type that drove you mad with desire" (paragraph 4) to imply that she was plain-looking and not that pretty. 

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The Catcher in the Rye

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