Catcher in the Rye Censorship

Category: Literature
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Catcher in the Rye may not seem like an age appropriate book for teenagers to be reading during such a confusing time, you cannot judge a book based on the cover or what others may deem as inappropriate. For many many years, this novel has been challenged and even banned in some schools because of the language used in the book. Looking past the expletives used or the content that is in it is beside the point because there can be many valuable lessons taught throughout the novel. Those include how you don’t have to be alone when it comes to emotions, or having more responsibility when it comes to growing up. Although Catcher in the Rye would be viewed as inappropriate because of the profanity and references, Salinger characterizes Holden to maintain a relationship with his younger sister, the balancing of a childhood while veering into the adult world, and how this book is able to relate to teens even though the time period is different. This relationship that he has is quite valuable because in the novel, Holden is quite rude to the adults around him except when he is with his sister who is still a child and has the innocence. Along with that, he struggles with the idea of being able to balance the innocence his younger sister has as well as him going into the adult world.

Even though this book is banned in many schools, teens will sometimes go out to their library and read it anyway, so there is no actual banning here. Banning a book is like telling a child to not touch the hot stove, so it could go either way with one child touching the stove, or another just observing and making conclusions based off previous instances similar to the book being “banned”. In the LA Times, Summers, a school board President, he stated that “More kids are going to read it now as a result of all this.” I totally agree with this statement because no matter how much protection from the book there is, more and more students will want to read the book. Some may not be able to read it because of personal reasons, but could ask another student what is inside the book regardless. The book itself has non-age appropriate content, but the lessons could be something that teens may have an importance with such as coping with peer pressures or dealing with emotions and not knowing how to handle them.

Content wise of this novel is just as amazing as other books out there. People need to understand that just because a book has a lot of cursing and inappropriate references or the use of the Lord’s’ name in vain, doesn’t mean the book is bad in any means at all. On the Banned & Challenged Books list, Catcher is banned because it was promoting “anti-family values” when in actuality if one read the book, Holden is quite close to his sister and two brothers despite the rare mentions of his parents. Not only does it teach family values, but it also teaches one that growing up means channeling your frustrations into something productive or how societal details aren’t always phony as described in the Huffington Post’s article. Some teachers even have the option for students who are not able to read the book because parents don’t want the exposure, recommended to another novel that is within reading level and above all innocent. Looking past the profanity in this novel, a recurring theme is actually the loss of innocence and a childhood, in which Holden is being protective of his younger sister Phoebe from growing up too fast.

The explicit language and sexual references in the book are not avoidable because it is there and is what enhances the novel characterizing Holden. As written in the Los Angeles Times, the board made the executive decision to ban the book because “The censorship does come out of a desire to protect our youth.” Teens in the twenty-first century are exposed to so much information way beyond the “bad stuff” in this novel. Adults and board members need to understand that there is going to be to some extent profanity and references that students will be hearing or seeing around them. The famous passage Holden says towards the book about being a catcher in the rye is very similar to the case of adults censoring this book from teens told by Mrs. Keller-Gage. She had revealed in an observation, “They’re wanting to preserve the innocence of the children,” she said, ”and I think that instead of trying to preserve their innocence, we have to try to deal with these children losing their innocence. I think society is the one that is kind of taking the innocence away. Things are not innocent anymore, and I think we’ve got to help them deal with that, to make reasonable choices, to be responsible citizens.” As ironic as it is, the times have not changed and that teens are still to this day able to assimilate with Holden from the 60’s.

Catcher in the Rye is definitely a controversial book that is constantly being juggled to whether or not the book should be taught in schools. While adults may argue that the book should be banned, I see that students in high school are capable of reading this, even though maturity levels may vary from student to student. Adults are constantly wanting to ban the book just because of the language used or the obscenity of vulgar expressions. I view this book highly because banning the book only gets people to want to read it more, the content itself is totally fine for high school students to be read and the exposure that is trying to be prevented from happening is no use since it really depends how soon or how late the teen finds out about this kind of information.  

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Catcher in the Rye Censorship. (2021, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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