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Life Lessons and Profanity in The Catcher in The Rye

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Considered one of the best novels of the 20th century, The Catcher in the Rye continues to affect readers around the world since its publication in 1951. While the vulgarity and adult matters in the book are undoubtedly inappropriate for young students, its underlying themes of self-discovery and maintaining moral values contribute life lessons. 

The novel deals with issues such as profanity, irrational behavior, and ethical lessons. Such issues have brought about the disputable character of the book along with the question of whether or not this book should be banned. With previous and logical information, The Catcher in the Rye should not be banned. To begin with, banning a book based on the reasoning that it promotes profanity would be an irrational decision of those who wish to limit beliefs that do not correspond with their own. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caufield is the main character and also the main individual using profanity. The level of profanity used in the story is almost at the same level as what is applied in a PG-13 rated movie, which means it is acceptable for anyone above the age of thirteen. Holden has so much anger and hatred toward the world, the chosen way to express his feelings seem to be through foul language. Take these certain words out of the story, and Holden would become a completely different person. More than likely, this would lead to misunderstanding from the readers about how Holden truly feels and change the overall message. Salinger chose words less offensive than others, and words that are apart of manys everyday language. Therefore, profanity is not appropriate as a reason for restriction and does not validate the banning of The Catcher in the Rye.  Secondly, The Catcher in the Rye provides many life lessons one can learn and these are positioned on respect, intolerance, education, etc. 

Throughout the novel, Holden is presented as being intolerant and disrespectful to everyone. Yet, the lack of religion Holden has makes him intolerant because he considers himself an atheist as he cannot encounter any religion. One of the lessons expressed in the novel is you are not alone in your frustrations. Holden spends the majority of the book complaining. It is annoying at times, sad at others, but as a whole, it makes him somewhat of a provoking character. Still, his frustration with others, and especially his hardships about dating and lost love, can help readers understand that they are not the only one struggling with problems, big or small. A second lesson revealed in the novel is the importance of healthy connections with others. One of the most overwhelming principles one can learn is the need to build some type of strong relationship. Seeing Holden’s character develop, one could certainly understand the basic idea of the need to connect with other people in order to make living in this world moderate. A third lesson shown in the novel is living in the past will lead oneself nowhere. The fantasy in which Holden describes reflects his bitterness that he has been left to go into adulthood alone. 

Unfortunately, Holden’s inability to cope with adult situations has caused him to fall back into a childlike mindset where the world and everyone around him is useless unless they agree to his point of view. Holden’s intolerant personality is unacceptable in society, and the book teaches that he has many undesirable traits, along with powerful life lessons that everyone should know.

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Life Lessons and Profanity in The Catcher in the Rye. (2022, July 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from
“Life Lessons and Profanity in The Catcher in the Rye.” GradesFixer, 07 Jul. 2022,
Life Lessons and Profanity in The Catcher in the Rye. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Aug. 2022].
Life Lessons and Profanity in The Catcher in the Rye [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Jul 07 [cited 2022 Aug 15]. Available from:
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