The Catcher in the Rye

What commentary does Catcher make on American cultural or societal values?


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American societal values are condemned within the context of the main character, Holden Caulfield. Post WWII America experienced and defined the American Dream, but all Holden was able to see was materialism and phonies, and yet, his most ardent wish is to escape until the money runs out..... who's paying the bill?

If Holden were a real character, I would liken him to Christopher McCandless from into the wild. Both characters have a desire to live in the middle of nowhere, grow their own food..... live off the land. The biggest difference between the two is the fact that McCandless turned his back on materialism, gave a way his money, and accepted nothing. Holden takes the money offered by his parents and grandparents..... he blows it, but he accepts it none-the-less, all while reiterating how "money really talks."

In the end, we see Holden as a non-conformist..... he wants to break away from the norm rather than be a "yes man," constantly worried about the approval of those around him. He fights the American dream, and has no wish to be a part of it.


Catcher in the Rye