10 Literary Devices

by Drew Fulk

Catcher in the Rye: 10 Literary Devices

In this flyer I will be telling you about 10 different literary devices in my book, Catcher in the Rye.

Literary Device #1 Static Character

Static Character is when the character does not go through a change and acts the same throughout a period of time. In this book, Holden is failing every class and he doesn't seem to care. he is showing static character by refusing to change his grades or make any attempt to fix them. In the story he is talking to his teacher and he says, "It is alright with me if you flunk me as I am flunking everything else accept English anyway" (Salinger12). This show's that Holden does not care about how he is doing in school. Because of this he would not have been kicked out of Pencey Prep School, and that would not have made for an interesting story. The significance of him being a static character is that now that he remains being a student that fails every class he gets kicked out and that event helps form the rest of the story.
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Literary Device #2 Verbal Irony

Verbal irony occurs when someone knowingly exaggerates or says on thing and means another. In this case Holden is asking if he can sleep in his friend's roommates bed and his friend says that he doesn't know when he'll be back when in reality Holden knows that the roommate won't be back until next Saturday. Holden responds in anger by saying, "Boy that annoys the hell out of me" (Salinger46). This example of verbal irony is especially important because, since this event happened Holden ends up not getting to sleep at that place and ends up having to find another place to sleep. Also it is verbal irony because his friend does not actually annoy the hell out of him because, that is physically impossible because people do not have hell in them. He mainly says this to show how angry he is with his friend.
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Literary Device #3 Allusion

An allusion is an indirect reference to another literary work or to a famous person, place, or event. In this story Catcher in Rye the title is actually an allusion to a poem written by Robert Burns. The poem is called Comin' Thro' the Rye. It is an allusion to the book because the name of the story is "Catcher in the Rye" (Salinger1). It is significant because the title was based upon that poem by Robert Burns.
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Literary Device #4 Hyberole

A hyperbole is a figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis or humorous effect. In this story Holden is explaining how much of a kid he is despite the fact that he has a large amount of gray hairs. During the story Holden explains, " It's really ironical because I'm six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. The one side of my head, the right side, is full of millions of gray hairs. I've had them ever since I was a kid. And yet I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve" (Salinger9). This really enhances the story because it tells the audience that even though Holden may look grown up; he still acts very much like a kid. This is a hyperbole because Holden exaggerates the amount of gray hair he has to emphasis the fact that he looks grown up but is still very much immature.
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Literary Device #5 Theme

A theme is the main edea in a work of literature. It is a perception about life or human nature that the writer shares with the reader. In most cases, the theme is not stated directly but must be inferred. In this book, some could infer that Holden feels abandoned because he is always being sent away to boarding school, his brother lives all the way across the country, and his peers reject him. There are a number of quotes from the book that could be used to show Holden feeling abandoned, so here are two. In the story Holden is explaining to the audience his situation with boarding schools, he says, "This isn't the first boarding school I've been kicked out of..." (Salinger15). This is important because this shows us that his parents don't care much to have him around the house since all they want to do is send him to boarding schools. Also during an emotional part in the story Holden is feeling alone and looking for someone to call and he says this about his brothers, "I wish my brother hadn't lived so I could call him" (Sallinger50). this shows his abandonment from his family because since his brother lives on the west coast and he lives in New York, they don't have the same time zones so he feels disconnected from his brother.
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Literary Device #6 Situational Irony

Situational Irony is the contrast between what a reader or character expects and what actually exists or happens. In this work of literature Holden calls all the other characters in the story phonies when in reality his and the other person he's calling a phony's characteristics are very similar. In one part of the story Holden is talking bad about his old boarding schools, he says, "One of the biggest reason I left Elkton Hills is because I was surrounded by phonies" (Salinger18). Then later on Holden goes onto saying, "I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw" (Salinger38). This is very ironical because in one quote you have Holden saying how he hates liars, or phonies, and then you have another quote where he explains how much of a phony he is himself. This is basically saying that if Holden hates phonies, then he basically hates himself. This effects the story because it shows the audience that Holden is very confused in life and he doesn't know what he likes or hates.
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Literary Device #7 Symbolism

Symbolism is a person, a place, an activity, or an object that stands for something beyond itself. In this story, Holden's hunting hat represents isolation from society. Its helps him identify himself as a martyr for innocence. In the novel Holden is telling his buddy about how much he likes his hat. he says, "I shoot people in this hat" (Salinger17). Although he does not actually shoot people in his red hunting hat, the hat has a deeper meaning than just a red hunting hat.
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Literary Device #8 Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a writer's use of hints or clues to indicate events and situations that will occur later in a plot. In the novel the author, J.D. Salinger, uses a series of clues to lead up to Holden's mental breakdown. The author uses two key examples to show foreshadowing. One is, "I never really had much of a childhood" (Salinger42). As you can imagine, someone without a good childhood is most likely set up for failure. Also another quote used in the book is, "I always hated people who were hype" (Salinger58). This is telling the audience that Holden doesn't like people that are happy in life. Which usually means if you're not happy with someone else being happy in life, then you're probably not to happy in your own life.
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Literary Device #9 Metaphor

A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two things that are basically unlike but that have something in common. In the story Holden is explaining to the audience how lonely he feels after some girls had just left him. In this work of literature Holden says, "I certainly began to feel that I was a prize horses ass sitting there all by myself" (Salinger86). Holden is comparing his loneliness to a prize horses butt because he is trying to tell how alone he feels. This could also be used as an example for theme because he feels abandoned. Even though it is an example of those it is a better example of a metaphor because he is comparing his loneliness to something else.
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Literary Device #10 Simile

A simile is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two things using the word like of as. In the story Holden is talking about people to call and he says that his friend Morrow is really sensitive. In the story he says, "That guy Marrow was about as sensitive as a goddamn toilet seat" (Salinger55). Holden says this to exaggerate how sensitive Marrow is because in real life nobody is a sensitive as a toilet seat. This helps emphasize how Marrow's character is and how he effects the story.
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