The Catcher in the Rye: Censorship
To start off, the Catcher in the Rye, written by J.D. Salinger, is about a boy named Holden Caulfield, who begins the book at a school named Pencey Prep School, in Pennsylvania. At the books beginning, the school is several days away from Christmas break, where Holden will be returning home to Manhattan, where his parents live, because he has been expelled out of the prep school due to the failing of four out of his five classes. To end his last couple days at Pencey, Holden goes through a lot of annoying moments that test his patience at a disappointing time for Holden. His former teacher tries giving him tips, his roommate gets in a relationship with his crush, who he then gets in a fight with, and his neighbor is constantly bugging him with his disgusting habits. All three of these events end up getting to him in a negative way, which pushes him to leave Pencey three days early and stay in a hotel until it is time to return home.
During these three days, Holden goes through a lot, such as dealing with prostitutes, ex-girlfriends, old friends, thoughts of running away for good, and alcohol, he ends up being led to his sister, who still lives at his family’s apartment, by the name of Phoebe. Here, he is forced to tell his sister about how he has been kicked out of school yet again, and then proceeds to explain and justify why he hates school so much and how it is such a struggle to him. After a short argument, Holden responds to Phoebe’s question that asked, “What do you want to do with your life?” , with “If a body catch a body comin’ through the rye.” Holden goes on to explain how he wants to stand at the edge of a cliff, and protect kids that are playing nearby from falling off into a field of rye far below, which introduces “the catcher in the rye”.
After his sister turns down these thoughts, his parents return, who he hides from, and he then leaves for good and turns to an old English teacher by the name of Mr. Antolini. Once Holden arrives at his place, he says, “I have a feeling that you’re riding for some kind of terrible, terrible fall.” to try to tell him how he is messing up his life. Holden leaves after they argue. After he leaves, he meets back up with his sister. This is all while Holden is at his lowest point yet, and constantly down on himself. After they hangout awhile, he is happy as he’s ever been, and cries. The story then ends by Holden explaining how he wont say what happened after he begins to cry in the park. It is known, however, that he did not run away, and he went home, and ultimately got mentally sick, and is now at this point in a mental rehab facility. This is where he told the story from the whole time. He then says how he may enroll into school next semester, and actually apply himself as advised form many people in the story. So, the story ends with Holden getting the help he has needed throughout the story, and him getting his life in line. After reading “The Catcher in the Rye”, I have many different thoughts about the book and the main character, Holden.
In the beginning and throughout a good portion of the book, I believed that Holden was this type of kid who had lots of potential and opportunity, but wasted it all away in a sense. This sixteen year old kid was going to a nice school, where he could have set his mindset to be successful after being kicked out of two other schools, but he instead got kicked out again. After this, when he went back into the city, he made bad choice after bad choice, which only made his image worse. He got tied with several bad things, such as prostitutes and alcohol, which made his life even harder. Which negatively affected himself once again. At this point, readers would see this kid as a failure, that still has a chance at a nice life, and then Holden shows Hope when he begins to think about his ex’s and his sister, and this is really the turning point in the story. When Holden first gets led to his family’s apartment, where he finds Phoebe, his slight fall leads to his uprising.
This is when I started to notice he was trying to fix himself, which is shown by his constantly trying to justify what he did/what he has been through. It ends up being an argument and Holden leaving, but then when he talk with his English teacher, Mr. Antolini, he realizes it is his fault, and he needs to fix himself and put the work in. This is the spot where he I feel he is really disappointed with himself, until he meets with his sister, and they hangout, where he is suddenly very happy, because he now knows what he needs to do to fix himself, and he has accepted that. As a reader, I now have respect for him because he is working towards where he needs to be by going to rehab and then trying in school after that. From beginning to end, Holden made an excellent comeback for everything he had been through. Overall, this was an excellent book that demonstrated many different things that a person could go through and how to resolve them in a manner that is very realistic, and a way that many others can probably relate with. The book “The Catcher in the Rye” is not a book meant for those in Elementary or Middle school.
According to Liz Perle, It is intended for those who are fourteen years of age or older, which are generally freshman in high school (2005). The banning and censorship of this book is much due to its constant vulgar language, sexual actions, and violence that is portrayed by Holden, who is the main character. According to an article by the name of “Banned Books” written by California State University-Northridge, Holden’s actions and language lead to the main arguments of banning this book. One parent of a student who was reading this even took a petition with eighty signatures to ban this book (1). Even though there are such strong cases to protect this classic, the sexual content and vulgarity continue to cause such a strong argument that it must be banned/censored.
As time has gone on, this book by J.D. Salinger has been considered as a classic, but very inappropriate by others, which has led to its banning in many places in America. It has been one of the most challenged books ever, and its frequent challenging has led to it being banned in majority of schools and libraries (American Library Association 1).Those who have attempted to challenge this book have had good arguments against it, mainly because they explain how kids should not be exposed to the content of this book. According to Ryan Gash, the sexual, violent, and vulgar content in this book is the only reason it has been challenged and banned. The actual content and storyline of “The Catcher in the Rye” is a very touching story that readers can relate to because of the real life problems Holden has, but since it has this stuff in it, parents and teachers do not want many of the students and kids reading it under a certain age which is about fourteen or fifteen years of age (1). This book, written by Salinger, actually is in the Wayne County Public Library, and the Wayne Community College Library.
This is because this book was only challenged and banned for those of younger ages, like elementary and middle school students, so therefore, it would not be banned in a college and a county library because those who come in to read at both of these places can be well over this age in which it has been said to be inappropriate for. While it has this content, the story is still good, so therefore it is still loved and considered a classic, so it is still accepted in the older age range, so therefore, it is still in many libraries around the country.Personally, I believe in censorship to an extent. Censorship should be mainly applied to readers of younger age, more than those in the upper teens. Young kids under the age of fourteen should not be exposed to such mature content like that in the “Catcher in the Rye”. Typically, in most schools and friend groups, kids at this age are immature and if they read this type of stuff, they will take it the wrong way and not understand it how they should. However, if these students above the age of fourteen read it, they are more mature because at this stage in their life, they are young adults, so it doesn’t really affect them.
This is why censorship should take place in certain age groups. I believe that High School students are at a point in their life where they are more mature, of course this has an exception of a few, but for the most part, students who have reached this age have grown up and can handle the content in this book. Also, many students probably go through some of the same things that Holden went through, so if they can read this, connect, and see how Holden handles his problems, their lives may benefit from reading this which is a nice thing to get from a classic book like this. This is the specific group that I feel is the perfect group to read this. Kids, students, and young adults who are in the grades nine through twelve, and in college will get the most out of this. However, I feel that older adults will react badly to Holden, which is one of the reasons it has been banned.