The Catcher in the Rye

Holden and the Canon: Evaluating the Aesthetic and Classic Status of 'The Catcher in the Rye' 12th Grade

J.D Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ has been controversial since its release in 1951. Its focus on crude and sexual subject matter means it was banned in many places, even in some American schools today. Works in the canon, sometimes referred to as ‘the classics’ are broadly defined as works that, because of their innate literary value, are ‘regularly in print’, have ‘a consensus of academics, historians and teachers’ and ‘are studied for school examinations’[1]. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ has consistently been in the top 100 novels since its publication, but has struggled to gain either a consensus among critics or a reputable academic following. This essay shall explore what has held ‘Catcher’ back from canonical status, despite its broad and long-standing popularity, and whether it is the text or the canon itself that should come under question. [1] Critical Anthology- Section 6

Critics who dismiss ‘Catcher in the Rye’ have generally done so because they consider the writing to be simplistic or unrefined. Canonical texts are usually expected to be ‘aesthetic’ and therefore ‘Elegant, witty, patterned, controlled.’[1] Some critics will particularly highlight that ‘Writers do not simply choose ‘ordinary’ words, like the words...

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