The Catcher in the Rye is narrated in a subjective style from the point of view of Holden Caulfield, following his exact thought processes. There is flow in the seemingly disjointed ideas and episodes; for example, as Holden sits in a chair in his dorm, minor events, such as picking up a book or looking at a table, unfold into discussions about experiences.
Critical reviews agree that the novel accurately reflected the teenage colloquial speech of the time. Words and phrases that appear frequently include:
- "Phony" – superficial and pretentious
- "That killed me" – I found that hilarious or astonishing
- "Flit" – homosexual
- "Crumbum" – inadequate, insufficient, and/or disappointing
- "Snowing" – sweet-talking
- "I got a bang out of that" – I found it hilarious or exciting
- "Shoot the bull" – have a conversation containing false elements
- "Give her the time" – sexual intercourse
- "Chew the fat" – small-talk
Spoken pauses, such as "and all", "I really did" pepper the narration as well as Holden's dialogue.