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Critical ChildrenThe Use of Childhood in Ten Great Novels$
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Richard Locke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231157834

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231157834.001.0001

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J. D. Salinger’s Saintly Dropout

J. D. Salinger’s Saintly Dropout

Holden Caulfield

(p.138) 5 J. D. Salinger’s Saintly Dropout
Critical Children

Richard Locke

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines J. D. Salinger's most famous character, Holden Caulfield, in The Catcher in the Rye (1951). Holden is a holy rebel who represents the principle of Good, and a quick-tongued urban trickster who mocks his own conventional society and never wants to grow up. He was also portrayed as an embodiment of the search for American freedom and authenticity. The novel features various literary references, including Eustacia Vye in Return of the Native (1878), Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa (1937), Ring Lardner's satires, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (1597), Emily Dickinson, The Great Gatsby (1925), A Farewell to Arms (1929), and Robert Burns's Comin Thro' the Rye (1782)—the novel's most obvious literary reference, from which its title was derived.

Keywords:   J. D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye, Robert Burns, Comin Thro' the Rye, American freedom

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