Friday, August 20, 2010

The Catcher in the Rye: Holden's Humor

All the way through the novel The Catcher in the Rye, the main character Holden Caulfield is hilarious. I honestly think he is genuinely funny because he is so sarcastic in his own little cynical way. It sounds kind of bad, but I like his humor. For instance, I think this quote from the story is quite amusing, “When I was all set to go, when I had my bags and all, I stood for a while next to the stairs and took a last look down that goddam corridor. I was sort of crying. I don't know why. I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my goddam voice, ‘Sleep tight, ya morons’ I'll bet I woke up every bastard on the whole floor. Then I got the hell out. Some stupid guy had thrown peanut shells all over the stairs, and I damn near broke my crazy neck.” In this passage, Holden is talking about when he leaves Pencey Prep. for good. Actually, it is not just Holden that I find hilarious but it is also the writing style of Salinger. For instance, in this passage, what Holden does exactly is not the funny part, but it is how Salinger makes him describe it. The part about breaking his neck on the peanut shells is so unnecessary, but it adds to the comedy. The parts where Holden is not trying to be funny are almost the best. When he is talking about somebody being phony for example, I think it is hilarious not only because of his language, but because of the way he goes about saying things is great. He just comes out and says things. Even about the nuns, he was not tentative in his mind to make judgments. Although it is a bad thing for him to make such rash judgments, they make me laugh.


  1. Yeah. I agree with you. It is a very funny book which I hadn’t expected at when I read it 20 years ago. A dark kind of humor that doesn’t seem to be apparent to many readers who take it more of a story of a troubled kid.

    The scene where they see the Lunts and they meet this other kid who expresses great excitement, steps back, and crushes some poor woman’s foot is just so funny. As an introvert, it seems to me that is a very accurate depiction of most forced social encounters.