First Edition Cover Art for the novel in 1951

From Holden's Hat, A Catcher in the Rye encyclopedia anyone can roam around in the rye...

The novel The Catcher in the Rye has a large and broad history behind it, creating a huge amount of positive and negative impact throughout the years this novel has since been published in 1951. The novel has lead to popularity towards adults but teenagers as well but controversy also has an impact as well. Different opinions of the book were made by many people including authors and governments as well but this book is known for its explicit material. Although this novel has had positive reviews from certain audiences such as teenagers, many disapprove of this novel as it consequently faces banning, challenging and censorship. The novel was written by J.D. Salinger, published by Little, Brown and Company, annually sells 250,000 copies and has won several awards throughout the years. This is J.D. Salinger's first novel ever published.

  1. Creation History
  2. Review of the Book/ Publishing
  3. Interview with Current Writers
  4. Controversy & Impact on Society
    1. Deaths: Influences, Causes & Effects
    2. Banning of the Book/ Use of Explicit Content: Sexual & Language
    3. J.D. Salinger's Response
    4. Influence
  5. Awards
  6. References/ External Links

Creation History

J.D. Salingers house before he moved to his cabin
J.D. Salinger has a specialty in creative writing in college and succeeded in this topic. Ever since then, Salinger wrote more throughout his teenage years and even in Europe during World War II, which lead to his first short story. After the war, Salinger continued to write more short stories as they were published in The New Yorker. This novel took a decade to write Ever since Salinger wrote and published his novel of The Catcher in the Rye, he becomes well known with popularity and the controversy starts in those years.

Salinger talked about writing a novel or short story about a teenage boy named Holden Caulfield. The novel is about a boy who is expelled from a prep school and goes through some difficult challenges in life he can't handle. Various events in the novel are similar to Salinger's life. For instance with Holden moving from prep school to prep school and being threatened with military school are a connections to J.D. Salinger and his life as he said in 1953 for the novel to be "sort of" autobiographical. He says that the events that happened in his life are similar to Holden's and he is glad to indirectly tell everyone about it in a novel. In addition, the novel is similar to his short story, Slight Rebellion off Madison. Catcher in the Rye serves as a first person point of view which shows the insight of the main character and his unsettled problems and emotions. Salinger meant for this story to only be read by adults and not teenagers as it contains sexual slang and a more than decent amount of profanity. over time the book has made an impact on people. there has been many remakes of the book and movie.

Review of the Book/ Publishing

As this novel was published, it become extremely popular and successful and was on the New York Times Bestseller List for thirty weeks as parents despised this. The book became high in demand, as it was reprinted eight times and published in the world's major languages. The novel as mentioned before was popular to adults but later landed in the hands of young adolescents. Many film makers were hungry for the novel to be created as a movie but Salinger turned it down. The novel has a great amount of mixed reviews from many people who read it including critics and the president. Negative reviews including James Stern saying the book was horrible and others saying the novel is not serious literature, due to it's informal tone. Positive reviewers would say the book to be great includes Nash K. Burger saying "an unusually brilliant novel", George H.W. Bush saying it was marvelous, Finlo Rohrer explaining the book defines the difficulties of a teenager and Adam Gopnik saying that the book is one of the three perfect in American literature. Negative reception includes disappointed readers who say the novel fails to meet the expectations generated by Salinger and that he has showed nothing. Arguments include which the book is about teenage angst and too much whining. The reception of the novel was negatively so strong, Salinger retreated and moved to a hilltop cabin in Cornish, New York, where he continued to publish stories in the New Yorker periodically to escape the public from criticism. The novel was read by most people about alienation, teenage angst, depression, and internal conflicts in a careless cold reality. Holden Caulfield becomes a role model for teens especially as it talks about rebellion and escape from these problems. Furthermore, he is also a figure of a person who is in fear of growing up, doesn’t have a good connection of other people and the world and faces independence and oppression. Many parents resent the novel as it shows that Holden is a bad role model for teens as it teaches them to do what is unusual and wrong and trying to rebel. However, many would argue that it teaches positive lessons about moral behavior, religious acceptance, tolerance, and allowing the reader to grasp the understanding of other people's lives as well as understanding the internal pain a teenager goes through.

Interviews with Current Writersbn-20091008-C007-fromwritingsong-502735-MI0001.standalone.prod_affiliate.50.jpg

The author of King Dork, Frank Portman, is interviewed by Scott Butki on blogcritics about his book and his real feelings toward Catcher in the Rye (Full Interview). He believes that the novel is a good book and really got a bad reputation from everyone carrying it with them in the 60's. When he was asked the question "...Would you rather have people carrying your book?" He responded that he would, mostly because of the publicity but if it harmed it then, no.

Controversy & Impact on Society

As the novel grew with fame, negative outcry of the novel with abysmal reviews of it being a weird novel became common surrounding the novel with controversy. Also, a great amount of impact which struck the world hard became a big issue. Controversy made a roar ever since the novel was published and impacted many lives in terrible ways. This includes the attempted or successful assassinations, teachers being impacted and the novel to become banned in many schools and other places around the world.

Deaths: Influences, Causes & Effects

Various crimes, murders, and attempted assassinations are lead by the the book and many people blame Catcher in the Rye for these
News article of John Lennon's death in 1951
horrible and tragical incidents.

Pictures of Reagan's Attempted Assassination
The most famous and well known incidents was by Mark David Chapman. John Lennon, band member of The Beetles was shot four times and killed by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at 10:50 PM near the Dakota Building in New York. Lennon was on his way home after signing autographs for people. After he was, killed, Chapman ran away but was immediately arrested by the police. Chapman read parts of the book on the sidewalk before his arrest and tried to change his name to Holden Caulfield since he said that his life is very similar to Holden. He also wrote a message on the book's inside front cover: "To Holden Caulfield. From Holden Caulfield. This is my statement." Chapman also wanted Lennon's innocence to be preserved by death, inspired by Holden's wish to preserve children's innocence including Holden's later realization that children should be left alone. This shows one example of how the novel could create psychological problems.

Another high profile, but vitally important murder known due to the novel is former President Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt. John Hinckley Jr. on March 30, 1981 fired at Reagan six times at the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C. with a .22 caliber Rohm RG-14 revolver in three seconds, although it hit six other people, including Reagan. The reason behind this was not just trying to impress Jodi Foster, but he was also obsessed and a huge fan of The Catcher in the Rye.
Robert John Bardo, Rebecca Schaeffer's Murderer

Other murders that have influenced the urge to kill include Robert John Bardo's shooting of Rebecca Schaeffer. Bardo was a huge fan of the actress Schaeffer and always tried to stalk her and visit her everytime. One day in Hollywood, Bardo went to her room, in attempt to say that he was a big fan, but Schaeffer said to go away. The next time he visited, he held a copy of The Catcher in the Rye and shot and killed Schaeffer. Bardo was arrested and charged for first degree murder with life in prison.

Banning of the Book/ Use of Explicit Content: Sexual & Language

Schools and teachers became a main target for the banning of teaching and reading this novel from the early 1950's to the 1970's. The primary reasons the novel is banned is due to it's frequent and strong use of profanity, sexual content including prostitution and sexual themes, pre-marital sex, alcohol abuse, and the fact that the novel leads to anti-social behavior and abnormal psychological acts. The main target of schools are one of the factors that are dealt with (and still today) with the novel. Although this novel is well banned, it is the second most taught in schools but it still as of today is frequently and constantly challenged.

The first known event from a school was in 1960 dealing with an English teacher in Tulsa, Okla who used the novel for his lesson who was fired but later reinstated. However, the novel was forced to not be in a teacher's lessons plan at all. Teachers back then who taught the novel were fired or forced to resign. The novel became banned and censored in the years of 1962 and 1981 and challenged in the years from 1990 to 1999. Other incidents include the town of Columbus, Ohio claiming the book as "anti-white" and requested that the novel would be banned from schools. Several libraries would ban the book and remove it from their shelves due to the explicit content.

The novel contains frequent use of profanity, such as when a parent found a more than great amount of profanity such as 233 counts of the word "goddamn". Of course the book has more than this and in some cases gets more severe. As with sexual content, this is greatly used such as in prostitution and strictly sexual themes and sexual language.

J.D. Salinger's Response

One of the primary things that Salinger encountered after the novel was published is that various film producers to attempt to make movies that were related to the novel. Salinger rejected various times from many people. (More on: Wikipedia and Salinger's Resonse About Movies) Salinger would also try to escape the public such as moving into a private home far away from exposure in Cornish. Salinger wrote less and less but continued to write for The New Yorker until 1965.


Response to J.D. Salinger about the Catcher of the Rye
The novel has lead to countless murders throughout the years and was mainly caused by the influence the novel gives to the reader. The novel could possibly turn a few into psychotic people, making those like Chapman not realize the world, go crazy and be an outcast to the world. He as well as other murderers or those who attempted self-suicide come to see that the world doesn't understand him and vice versa. Furthermore, mental states of the people become so severe, they would seriously relate themselves to Holden and do crazy things like Holden does such as crime, sex, and more. The novel is mainly a symbol teenage rebellion, living the lives you want to be and seeing the world negatively, when basically readers are trying to be "catchers in the rye".

However the novel doesn't just create a negative influence towards the minds of people. Some people found the piece of writing excellent. But publication of the novel influenced various film producers to attempt to make a movie. Other songs and parodies have been made about the novel as well (See Outside Elements and Influences).


Although this novel has been attacked with negative review such as censorship, and banning, this novel has been popular to many people and has won several awards and has been recognized throughout the years. One award with this novel would be the Top 100 best English-language novels since 1923 by TIME magazine. Also, the novel is the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century by Modern Library. Not to mention that the novel after it was released, it skyrocketed to Number 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for several weeks.

References/ External Links

  1. The Catcher in the Rye- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. 'The Catcher in the Rye' - Banned Books - TIME
  3. 'Catcher in the Rye' Author Leaves Behind Tales of Teen Angst
  4. J.D. Salinger
  5. Sparknotes: The Catcher in the Rye
  6. Death of John Lennon
  7. Reagan Assassination Attempt
  8. Robert John Bardo
  9. Catcher in the Rye
  10. Catcher in the Rye- Controversy
  11. Catcher in the Rye: Censorship History
  12. Banned Book: The Catcher in the Rye- Associated Content
  13. The Controversy Surrounding The Catcher in the Rye
  14. J.D. Salinger: Wikipedia
  15. VQR Censors