What words and phrases in the opening paragraph of The Catcher in the Rye give you a sense of Holden's personality and state of mind?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the opening paragraphs, you can tell that Holden is full of teen angst.  He is moody, negative, and self-centered.  He uses words like “lousy,” “crumby,” and “madmen,” and he swears profusely.  He also goes on extensive stream of consciousness tangents, where he seems to talk about nonsense unrelated to his point.

The best one in it was "The Secret Goldfish." … It killed me. Now he's out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me. (ch 1)

From the first paragraph, Salinger establishes that Holden’s story is not going to be easy to read.  He also introduces his narrative style full force, with writing how people think.  Reading this book is like being inside a teenage boy’s head.  It jumps from one thought to the next, on the most tenuous thread.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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