View Poll Results: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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  • *Very poor. Wouldn't recommend it

    3 12.50%
  • **Didn't like it much

    2 8.33%
  • ***Average

    5 20.83%
  • ****It is a good read

    9 37.50%
  • *****Like it very much. would strongly recommend it.

    5 20.83%
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Thread: Catcher in the Rye

  1. #1
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    Catcher in the Rye

    I'm supposed to be comparing existentialism and the importance of individuality in Catcher and 1984, I'm completely stuck. Anyone have any ideas?

  2. #2
    Registered User nome1486's Avatar
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    As I understand it, existentialism basically is belief in the importance of individuality--that life has no meaning except what each individual makes of it. So, if you have some information on existential philosophers (Jean-Paul Sartre is one), you can demonstrate how this philosophy is used in those novels--how the characters make their own choices about what their lives should be like. I know that's not much, but does it help at all?

  3. #3
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    Simone de Bouvoirs another existentialist philosopher that's worth checking out. I don't know much about it and it's been a while since I read Catcher in the Rye but I remember the book focusing on the individual character and his inabilty to fit in to the structures around him.
    Maybe that's a starting point for you.........

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by chrissy
    I remember the book focusing on the individual character and his inabilty to fit in to the structures around him.
    Maybe that's a starting point for you.........
    That's it! Existentialism was partly a response to the pre-WWII fascination with Ferdinand de Saussure's Structuralism (in which each identity takes on its meaning on the basis of a relationship with other parts of an overall structure). The Existentialists spear-headed the movement that the Postmodernists (or, more precisely, Poststructuralists) became famous for. Jacques Derrida (Deconstruction), Jacques Lacan (Psychoanalysis), Michel Foucault (New Historicism), and Judith Butler (Queer Theory), as well as William V. Spanos (Postcolonialism) are some of the big names in the field of Poststructuralism. Here's a brief explanaton of the three different schools and their relationship with each other:

    Structuralism preaches the doctrine that signs (words, for example) operate based on a system of differences. Words correspond to certain ideas . . . obviously we couldn't have just one word to capture every meaning, because the word would be too vague and would, subsequently, become useless. On the other hand, we could not have 1,000 different words that all mean the same thing, because, practically speaking, it wouldn't make any sense to use so many different signs to represent one idea. So we generally have a system of one idea per corresponding word . . . sometimes words share many different meanings (e.g. 'dull', 'grace', 'fly') and other times one meaning is signified by many different words, but the whole system is generally balanced. Those are the bare bones of Structuralism. You can apply this theory to anything that has an identity (this theory has been applied to everything from Economics to how the Human Mind operates).

    Existentialism rejects the notion that meaning exists out there somewhere, and that the words (or any other sign, be it audial, visual, sensual, &c.) we use are nothing more than little doorways to the presence of those meanings. Existentialists are individuals who are willing to live their lives both within and without the system that frames their identity. They accept the truth that life is absurd and that no prior meaning can be found . . . in that sense, they operate within it. However, as individuals, they construct their own meanings--their own fates--outside of the system they are operating in from day to day by creating their own moral code and living each day as if it were the last. Existentialism is a way of soothing the anxiety that transpires when everything you have known up to a certain point becomes a lie.

    The Poststructuralists point out a few of the major flaws in both Structuralism and Existentialism: That signs are thought of as gateways toward meaning . . . and that meaning exists out there somewhere beyond our reach, is founded on a very poblematic set of concepts. First of all, I have said that Structuralism is based on a 'system of differences'. The Poststructuralists pointed out that Saussure still presupposed that meaning was 'out there' somewhere without adequately explaining the nature of the signs, which are the revealers of the presence of meaning. After all, 'meaning' is a word . . . it is a sign that operates just like all of the other signs . . . founded on the principle that differences precede identity. It forms its own particular identity (just as all signs do) because there is another sign out there that is opposed to it and it alone: 'absence'.

    Consider this question: Can there be a 'derivitive' without an 'original'? Of course not. So, likewise, there cannot be an original without a derivitive to make it 'original'. If there was never a derivitive, then the idea of originality would never have been there to begin with . . . the two are co-dependent. It works just the same with other dichotomies such as Male/Female, Good/Evil, Father/Child, Being/Nothingness. If difference does indeed precede identity, then meaning of the sort that Saussure imagined is illegitimate since it exists outside the system of signification (the collection of all signs).

    But what is a structure? It is a relationship of signs. For example, when I (an American) say 'yes', I am converying a very specific meaning. Perhaps I am responding to a question, or maybe I am just letting someone know that I am ready to listen. Regardless, I am using a certain sound to represent an idea. At the same time, Jean-Charles in Strasbourg, a Frenchman is saying 'oui' and conveying the same idea that I am . . . but why the different word? Why do I say yes while he says oui? Because yes has a different placement in the structure of the English language. Oui means the same thing, but its placement in the French linguistic structure is not the same as ours. Yes means 'yes' because it is not the word 'less', 'mess', 'bless', 'blast', 'past', or any other word for the matter. And, of course, the same goes for jean-Charles. The identities of words are the same as the identities of people . . . read the French Neo-Freudian, Jacques Lacan, if you want to know how peoples' minds work in a linguistic system. You are the reader because I am the writer. I am AbdoRinbo because I am not Chrissy, nome1486, Zooey, or anyone else for that matter, which comes as a slap in the face to the Existentialist theory of the 'autonomy of the individual'. Check out any of the authors I have listed above for a more thorough and articulate description of Poststructuralism.

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    Thanks! I'll try and use some of the stuff you guys said.

  6. #6
    smeghead
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    The catcher in the rye

    ok, let's get a discussion going. What did you think?
    Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
    (Mark Twain)

  7. #7
    The Yodfather Stanislaw's Avatar
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    I have heard the name, And have heard that it is a good book, but I have never read it. What is it about.

    *showing off my ignorance*

    ---------------
    Stanislaw Lem
    1921 - 2006, Rest In Peace.
    "Faith is, at one and the same time, absolutely necessary and altogether impossible"

  8. #8
    smeghead
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    This guy, Holden Caulfield, gets kicked out of another school. the stuff that happens after that.

    one of my fave things about it-it makes fun of Dickens.[delightful]. Anyone want to discuss Salinger's writing style? At first I really liked it, but halfway through I got pretty sick of it. It was killing me, it really was. The continuous double negatives, repetition in the sentences, and millions of sentences ending in 'and all.' I started going nuts. I know he did in on purpose, but I got sick of reading things like 'they didn't hardly ever.' [maybe I'm just pedantic. should I be the new grammer nazi?]
    Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
    (Mark Twain)

  9. #9
    *reading it now*
    I agree that the grammar part gets pretty annoying at some point but on the other hand - it`s an average teenager...what did you expect?
    in general, i like the book so far - its very funny; the way he describes everything, and all. (c) =]
    Holden is a non-conformist, has his principles...
    i pretty much agree with the phony-people/world idea but
    lets see how it goes on.

  10. #10
    And the author has been true to his art - the book's cover, his hermitic existence, etc.

    In a world where so many artists 'sell out', kudos to him for writing 'the assassin's favourite novel'.

    His other published work is excellent too - I do hope he has been writing all these decades and not just masturbating or something.....


  11. #11
    L'artiste est morte crisaor's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Stanislaw
    I have heard the name, And have heard that it is a good book, but I have never read it.
    You should give it a try. I'm positive you'll like it.

    Originally posted by fayefaye
    Anyone want to discuss Salinger's writing style? At first I really liked it, but halfway through I got pretty sick of it. It was killing me, it really was. The continuous double negatives, repetition in the sentences, and millions of sentences ending in 'and all.' I started going nuts. I know he did in on purpose, but I got sick of reading things like 'they didn't hardly ever.' [maybe I'm just pedantic. should I be the new grammar nazi?]
    I actually enjoyed it. As you say, it's part of the vocabulary of a 16 years old. It can be tiresome, I'll admit that (not for me, though ).
    About that new occupation, I wouldn't apply for the job if I were you. There's too much of that already
    Ningún hombre llega a ser lo que es por lo que escribe, sino por lo que lee.
    - Jorge Luis Borges

  12. #12
    Drama Queen Koa's Avatar
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    Double negatives??? Good I read a translation.... I'll tell you a secret...if you ever want to get me very confused, use a lot of negatives in sentence
    dead on the inside, i've got nothing to prove
    keep me alive and give me something to lose

  13. #13
    smeghead
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    most sixteen year olds have better vocabulary than that. Or at least, I would hope so.
    Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
    (Mark Twain)

  14. #14
    Drama Queen Koa's Avatar
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    You're far too optimistic on that Faye. I believe most 16-year-old, at least British ones, have a far worse vocabulary than that, and I'm talking about spoken language, cos when it comes to writing they would spell correctly 1 word out of 5.
    dead on the inside, i've got nothing to prove
    keep me alive and give me something to lose

  15. #15
    smeghead
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    I think you're way off-people in england are far better at english than people here, and excellent spellers to boot.
    Last edited by fayefaye; 12-08-2003 at 11:41 AM.
    Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
    (Mark Twain)

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