By the use of the about school and education, about books and writers, about love and children / about life is general.
Holden Caulfield is the narrator of the novel and he uses the Present Tense in setting a frame to his story. Then, he shifts to the Past Tense and starts with a rather formal in media res: “Anyway it was Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall”
Salinger allows his center character to tell his “adventures” in his own way employing a first person narration. Holden does not always function as a trustworthy narration. He is presented as an imaginative teenager, a compulsive liar characterized by habitual exaggerations.
Holden gives us a partial view on reality, his view is often a diseases one and he doesn’t give an objective account of the events. Although his state of mind makes him see only the filth and perversion around him, his criticisms are quite often valid.
Salinger uses the limited omniscient view: the reader sees everything trough Holden’s consciousness. Thus, we speak about internal focalization. Since there is only one character through whose eyes the events are viewed, the internal focalization is fixed. Salinger does not use internal focalization rigorously, since the focalized character’s appearance, behavior and thoughts can with difficulty be described objectively.
In Holden’s narration, we encounter the traditional formulas used by narrators: “You remember I said before”, “I’ll just tell you”, “Some things are hard to remember”.
Salinger uses analepses within the story itself, but these are not formal flashbacks, since the earlier events come to us in fragments. The fragmented nature of their presentation is indicative of Holden’s state of mind. There are certain events that deeply trouble him, that plague his thoughts.
Holden’s flasks remembering the death of his brother Allie and that of James Castle, his friendship with Jane are that took place before the beginning of the story. He is troubled by the fate of the ducks in Central Park - these event appear as recurrent images throughout the novel. Thus, Salinger uses the technique of having identical phrases, and similar occurences appear from time in the novel. In describing Jane’s refusal to move her kings when playing checkers, he uses the iterative: “She wouldn’t move any of her kings”. He, thus, introduces one of Jane’s favorite habits- a futile gesture which comes to be a symbol for permanence.
J. D. Salinger uses the repetitive to represent Holden’s obsession with different things. These obsessions are also rendered by his vocabulary, besides the recurrent images of the novel.
Holden is deeply troubled by death and, from the beginning to the end of the novel, this appears under different forms. Death is present at Pencey through the Ossenburger chemorial Wing named after an undertaker who graduated from this school and who gave Pencey “a pile of dough”. For Holden, Ossenburger is the unscrupulous phony interested above all in money: “ . he started these undertaking parlors all over the county that you could get members of your family buried for about five bucks apiece”5. Stradlater himself calls the school “a goddam morgue”.
Holden recalls over and over his late brother, Allie, whose death some years before caused another of his nervous breakdowns. He cannot really accept Allie lying in that “crazy cemetery”, where “all the visitors could get in their cars and turn on their radios and all and then go some place nice for dinner – everybody except Allie6.
Holden’s obsession with death is present in his language, too; on almost every page of the novel there appear the words “kill” or “dead” or phrases analogous to them: “You were supposed to commit suicide or something if old pencey didn’t win”, “I nearly got killed”, “That killed me”, “She kills me”, “That kills me”.
Holden derives comfort from the dead: among the few people he likes there is James Castle, who chose to die rather than go back on his word.
At the beginning of the novel, the narrator establishes some facts of the story foreshadowing the end of the novel (prolepses). The reader knows that something unpleasant is going to happen to Holden.
As for the category of duration, in The Catcher in the Rye, the dialogue and the descriptive pauses function in both ways: they advance the unfolding of the events or they add extrainformation without contributing to the progress of the events. The description of the football game with Saxton Hall is a means of setting the scene and the atmosphere of the novel without giving further information as to what happened to Holden. The dialogue between Holden and Mr. Spencer, with its frequent repetition of “how are you . ”, “how’ve you been . ” and “how’s . ”, underlines the failure of the characters to make a true communication. On the other hand, from Holden’s description of. Mr. Spencer in his home, we may infer the weakness and inability of the teacher to help Holden. “What made it even more depressing, old Spencer had on this very sad, ratty old bathrobe that he was probably born in or something. I don’t much like to see old guys in their pajamas . Their bumpy old chests are always showing”7.
This is also the case with the description of Mr. Antolini. Although Holden is attached to the teacher, he drops some hints about Mr. Antolini being “more witty than intellectual about being “ a pretty heavy drinker” and about his smoking “like a field”, snowing that Antolini himself is caught in the “fall” and hence he is unable to be a “catcher” for Holden.
Holden/s dialogue with the nuns doesn’t advance the story, it helps to reinforce some qualities of Holden, which his eccentric behaviour conceals, - such as compassion, love for literature and kindness.
The “semes” converging upon Holden are scattered throughout the text and the character is thus gradually constructed. The reader is not given a “static” portrait of Holden. It is characteristic of Salinger that the reader learns very little about the character’s physical appearance. With Holden, we know only some facts about his growth: “ . I grew six and half inches last year. That’s how I practically got t.b. . I’m pretty halthy, though”8
Since Holden does not always function as a trustworthy narrator, there is often a discrepancy between his opinions on himself and his actions. The reader himself. Despite his constant swearing throughout the novel, he exhibits warmth and much common sense. His hatred of movies is also misleading, because through his continuous role acting be proves to be a telented performer. His hatred of the world around turns out to be deep involvement; “About all I know is, I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater . ”9.
With Holden’s language, Salinger gives the reader an accurate impression of the speech of a teenager in the 1950’s. The fact that the language is colloquial and slangy gives an air of realism to the novel and it also reflects the situation Holden is in: he acts impulsively and often he fails to analyse the implications of his actions.