American Writers Classics, Volume 1 by Jay Parini

By Jay Parini

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Throughout the novel Salinger seeks to maintain this artful balance: enough pathos to keep readers emotionally engaged, not so much that sentimentality overwhelms. As Holden says, he was "trying to feel some kind of a good-by," a good-bye he has missed in the past. This is the first hint—a slight one—of the grief Holden feels and is attempting to face. He may be only sixteen, but as everyone eventually experiences, he's suffering the pain that comes with loss. " Here is a character's humanity helplessly on display; via Salinger's subtle touch, readers feel for (and with) Holden.

But they capture two Sixo turns and grabs the mouth of the nearest pointing rifle. He begins to sing. Two others shove Paul D and tie him to a tree. . Sixo swings and cracks the ribs of one, but with bound hands can- 26 BELOVED threaten to give out. The rest of the time Paul D and the other men live in five-by-five-foot wooden boxes set in a deep dirt trench. The men begin their days with symbolic violence—"All forty-six awoke to a rifle shot. All forty-six. " not get the weapon in position to use it in any other way.

EW IF ANY American novels have reached as many hands as J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951. Still required reading in high schools, the book has assumed a cult status that has endured for fifty years. It is unlikely that Salinger foresaw the degree to which his creation would become a cultural document and primer to adolescence, but a mythic turn of the kind would not be beyond the imagination of the book's hero, Holden Caulfield. Salinger's own withdrawal from society into the woods of New Hampshire is in some part responsible for The Catcher in the Rye's mystique, but the novel can be regarded as a masterfully composed piece of art.

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