J.D. Salinger

Historical Figure Project -- Jack Belter

Brief Biography

  • Born in New York, New York on January 1, 1919
  • Perceived as smart at a young age, but not extremely successful in school
  • After dropping out of school he joins a military school
  • After Graduating Military school, has a go at college multiple times. Ends up going to Night Schools at Columbia
  • Right before his career as a writer is about to take off, drafted into World War 2
  • Landed on Normandy Beach, at the time of his military service he began to write his most notable novel, Catcher in the Rye
  • Sent to the Hospital for a Nervous Breakdown, this is where he met his first wife Sylvia, a German nurse
  • In 1955 married again to Claire Douglas and had 2 children
  • Publlished his book Catcher in the Rye, although very popular many critics criticized it for its immoral views.
  • After huge literary fame from the Catcher in the Rye, Salinger became extremely reclusive and slowed down his writing.
  • Only published one new work in 1965 called "Hapworth 16, 1924"
  • Continued to write throughout his life but because he cut off contact with the outside world, almost all of those stories went unpublished

“One day a long time from now you'll cease to care anymore whom you please or what anybody has to say about you. That's when you'll finally produce the work you're capable of.”

― J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger in Another Time Period

I think that J.D. Salinger would have fit into the 1920s. During the 1920s, there was also a huge social change and you was looked at as too crazy and radical (i.e. the flapper movement). Similar to how Salinger critiqued the social landscape of the 50s, I think he would be able to do the same in the 20s. I think his work would be similarly received as a controversial book of the period, and not fully appreciated till later times.

If I had J.D. Salinger's Writing Skills

With J.D. Salinger's writing skills I would like to write about the problems of todays society or controversial topics, similar to a muckraker of the Gilded Age. Salinger's controversial writing style would give me the ability to write satires similar to modern day novels such as Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.

Historical Impact/Parallels

Salinger's work has caused a lot of controversy throughout his life. John Hickley Jr.'s assassination attempt and Mark David Chapman, the man who assassinated John Lennon, have both come out to say they were influenced to kill by this book.

Catcher in the Rye was also the target of many book banning movements. It is noted as being the most censored book in High Schools and Libraries between 1961 and 1982 mainly for its use of vulgar language and sexual references.

The Catcher in The Rye

Salinger's most notable work is Catcher in the Rye. He began writing it during his time I. The military, and continued to write it after he returned home. The main character, Holden Caufield a troubled, angst you teen who looks at life in a different way from everyone else he meets. In a way, Holden Caufield represents Salinger's idea that they want to separate themselves from the rest of society. The novel is a coming of age story that describes a difficult phase in Holden's life. Some notable themes are protection of innocence, youth, and isolation.

The novel follows Holden Caufield, a 16 year old boy filled with grief after the death of his younger brother. He has trouble connecting with his peers and has no friends at the private school he attends. Holden has trouble identifying himself and constantly has a cynical attitude toward life. The only person he really trusts and has optimism for is his younger sister Phoebe who still exudes the innocence of youth he yearns for.

Salinger explores the use of a lot of slang and common talk throughout the novel, and the novel is similar to how Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn uses slang in the narraration and not just the dialogue. At the time when it was published, the language and slang used was very controversial.

From The Catcher in the Rye

"Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules."

-Chapter 2

"People never believe you."

-Chapter 5

"Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a toilet seat."

-Chapter 8

Work Cited

"J.D. Salinger Quotes." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 22 April. 2015.

"J.D Salinger." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 April. 2015.

"J.D. Salinger." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

13, April. "Holden Caulfield: Not as Radical as he Seems." The Rabbit Newspaper.The Rabbit Newspaper, 13 April. 2001. Web. 22 April. 2015.

"The Catcher in the Rye." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 22 April. 2015.

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