illustrated portrait of American author J. D. Salinger

J. D. Salinger

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How does Salinger represent his values and beliefs through The Catcher in the Rye and other works?

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This is a great question, and like many authors, Salinger does put a lot of himself in his works.  It is hard to point to exact items from his personal life since J.D. Salinger has always fiercely protected his privacy.  However, we know he was born and lived in New York, and that he was kindly asked to leave several schools before he graduated from a military academy in Valley Forge in  1936.  This sounds a lot like Holden Caulfield doesn't it?  He leaves school because he has been expelled and he wanders around the city for awhile before deciding to face the music and finally go home.  Also like Salinger, Holden has a sister whom he loves.

Salinger was also drafted into the military and served during WWII.  Like Holden, he has been exposed to life in the raw and has very raw feelings about it all...a bit confused at times,  perhaps, but very much full of strong opinion.

Even though Salinger has steadfastly refused to reveal any personal aspects of his life, many critics feel he draws heavily on his own experiences, thus revealing more about himself than he may intend.  I'm sure if you look into his biography, you will find even more attitudes and elements of his own life in works like The Catcher in the Rye.

Good Luck!

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