The Catcher in the Rye

Writing style

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 affirm that the novel accurately reflected the teenage colloquial speech of the time.[15] Words and phrases that appear frequently include:

  • "Old" – term of familiarity or endearment
  • "Phony" – superficially acting a certain way only to change others’ perceptions
  • "That killed me" – one found that hilarious or astonishing
  • "Flit" – homosexual
  • "Crumbum" or "crumby" – inadequate, insufficient, disappointing
  • "Snowing" – sweet-talking
  • "I got a bang out of that" – one found it hilarious or exciting
  • "Shoot the bull" "bull session" – have a conversation containing false elements
  • "Give her the time" – sexual intercourse
  • "Necking" – passionate kissing especially on the neck (clothes on)
  • "Chew the fat" or "chew the rag" – small talk
  • "Rubbering" or "rubbernecks" – idle onlooking/onlookers
  • "The can" – the bathroom
  • "Prince of a guy" – fine fellow (however often used sarcastically)
  • "Prostitute" – sellout or phony (e.g. in regard to his brother D.B. who is a writer: "Now he's out in Hollywood being a prostitute")

This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.