The Catcher in the Rye Allusions

When an author refers to other great events, people, and works, it isn’t accidental. This is a stylistic writing device referred to as an allusion. It is defined as the action of making references to something or using something to exemplify a thought.

As a bibliophile, Holden Caulfield from the novel The Catcher in the Rye is familiar with the literature. This is why he is depicted using constant allusions throughout the narrative. By so doing, the author ensures that the reader can easily reference fictional characters and historical figures. In this way, readers are better able to understand the point being made.

Seeing as how there’s some logic behind allusions, consider the following instances of the stylistic device used in The Catcher in the Rye.

Romeo and Juliet

At the Grand Central Station scene, Holden mentions Romeo and Juliet while conversing with nuns. He feels awkward talking about this story with nuns because of the strong sexual undertones in contains.

Since the character is clearly ill at ease talking matters sexual, this allusion is an apt representation of his deep insecurity. In the same way, it is used to show his despise for Romeo – which embodies his hate for fame characters from history.

Further, Holden mentions that he is driven crazy whenever someone gets killed.

Emily Dickinson

The character also remarks on Emily Dickinson on his way to the Wicker Bar. He talks about Allie’s belief in Emily as an astounding war poet. However, Holden and Emily had different views of the world.

That said, Holden and J.D. Salinger resemble Emily Dickinson in the sense that they are highly secretive and live a life removed from mass social interactions, only choosing to open up to a very select few.

Holden’s seclusion is similar to Salinger’s – who after writing The Catcher in the Rye fettered himself at home and only chose to communicate with a select social group of friends and family.

Ring Lardner

Lardner was a columnist, journalist, and author of great renown during his time. He was particularly marked out as a sterling writer based on his ironic and sarcastic works. When Holden converses about his brother’s literature, Ring Lardner is mentioned.

He says that after DB, Lardner is his favorite author. This is one of the significant The Catcher in the Rye allusions because Holden and Lardner are somewhat similar. Both, for instance, are sarcastic, live in New York, and have a drinking problem.

Out of Africa

Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is depicted as reading Out of Africa. He gets the book at a library and mentions that he likes it. Written about Karen Blixen, the book shows how the white owner of an expansive farm in Nairobi, Kenya in the country during Africa’s colonial period.

Holden relates to Blixen because of his wish to protect and nurture the innocent – much in the same way that Blixen did. As such, he battles with himself because he seems not to want to grow up – particularly in sticking to Out of Africa.

Concluding Thoughts

Over and above everything else, there are tons of The Catcher in the Rye allusions. Each of them has a meaning, and most are conveyed through Holden Caulfield in his day to day life and social interactions. The above listed are some of the more prominent illustrations of the use of this stylistic device by J.D. Salinger.

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