The Catcher in the Rye takes place sometime in the post-World war II era, one of two people in the late 1940s or beforehand 1950s. This years to be a time when the country enjoyed a booming economy and an extraordinary sense of progress, yet was likewise coming come terms through the atrocities the the war, such together the Holocaust and also America’s atomic battle of Japan. The book begins at Pencey Prep, an exclusive boarding school in brand-new Jersey. Despite the school’s scholastic reputation, Holden finds the society at Pencey claustrophobic, and he has actually a hard time getting together with the other boys there. As he claims in chapter 1, “The more expensive a institution is, the much more crooks that has—I’m not kidding.” Pencey introduces Holden’s frustration v the social course he was born into. Follow to Holden, over there is a disproportionate variety of crooks and also phonies among the wealthy, and also he believes the Pencey, which is a microcosm of affluent society, has actually crooks and phonies in spades.

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After the establishing opening scenes, Holden pipeline Pencey and also returns come his hometown of brand-new York City, whereby the bulk of the book’s action takes place. Brand-new York plays a an important role in the book, both reflecting and also heightening Holden’s emotional deterioration. The city is big and busy, yet Holden frequently feels alone amongst the crowds. He evokes together a feeling in thing 12: “New York’s disastrous when somebody laughs top top the street very late in ~ night. You can hear it because that miles. It renders you feel so lonesome and also depressed.” brand-new York additionally represents much of what Holden hates. Holden dislikes the falseness the performance, yet new York is a famous theater city, well-known for its impressive Broadway shows. Holden rails against commercialization, but that’s specifically what the encounters during the Rockettes’ superficial Christmas display at Radio City Music Hall. New York’s performance culture, and also its showiness and wealth, problem Holden deeply. In this sense, the city is a large version the Pencey.

Although Holden normally casts new York in a an adverse light, the city does sell him a couple of places the refuge. One such refuge is the Museum of herbal History. Holden takes comfort in the museum’s revolution exhibitions that never change. The knows that at any type of time he have the right to wander the exact same halls and see the same things, and this knowledge offers a feeling of stability. Significantly, the Museum is located nearby to central Park, i beg your pardon is Holden’s other place of refuge. Situated in the city’s heart and seemingly gotten rid of from the hustle and bustle the the streets, central Park provides a natural space where Holden can walk and think. However if main Park is a place of refuge, it’s likewise a place of mental breakdown. When Holden goes looking for his lovely lagoon one cold, dark night, he struggles discover it. Once he at some point arrives, he concerns he’s getting pneumonia and fantasizes about his own death. Also disconcerting is the delirious pleasure Holden feels once watching Phoebe ~ above the central Park carousel. His suddenly emotional transition may foreshadow the mysterious break down he refuses come talk about in the last chapter.

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For a novel that offers so much specificity about setting, Catcher in the Rye continues to be markedly mysterious around where Holden is once he is narrating the story. In the opening pages he says he “got quite run-down and had come come out here and take it easy.” In the last chapter, he states he “got sick,” describes being visited by “this one psychoanalyst guy they have here,” and says the bathroom is “way the hell under in the other wing.” These clues have led plenty of readers to i think Holden is informing the story from a psychiatric facility complying with a mental breakdown. However, another interpretation is the Holden is in a medical facility recovering native the condition he contracted throughout his weekend in brand-new York. His constant references come his physical degeneration over the course of the book, and also his concern around getting pneumonia, indicate he may have suffered a serious illness requiring expanded convalescence, such together tuberculosis. One of two people way, Holden is plainly telling the story from some type of hospital or school he anticipates leaving in time to start school again.

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