Throughout the novel The Catcher In The Rye, Holden Caulfield seems to be banning adulthood. In today’s society people often ban concepts that they do not agree with, however I believe that Salinger’s novel tells life stories that hold significant values and morals. I find that society has a way of overruling one’s own ethics by deciding what should be read.
The Catcher In The Rye was banned for the various themes that congregate all through the novel. I found two themes that clearly intermingled through the story. Holden had a problem in dealing with anything that was sex related, which in turn lead to Holden’s alienation from society. Censoring and banning reading materials to me seems extremely immoral for society institutions because it its taking away the American people’s freedom of speech.
In the article written by Stanley Fish, “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing, Too”, he writes that there is no such thing as free speech. Fish then goes and backs this up by talking about the first amendment. The Amendment prohibits the United States Congress from making any laws that would violate upon our freed of speech. I find that censorship in an encroachment on the freedom of speech, because it is suppression against communication between the author of the material and the reader.
In the article “The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses,” written by Alan Charles Kors, there is an annoyance expressed over the censoring of expressions and speech in colleges that is labeled as being politically incorrect. Kors sees that the universities view the censoring as viewing all individuals being affronted equally.
In Salinger’s novel, there is a lot of “sexual expressionism” throughout the storyline; I see this as one of the reason that it would be banned from Universities around the time it was published, due to the high sensitivity we have in the American public about freedom to express one’s self sexually. Holden admits in chapter nine that “sex is something I just don’t understand. I swear to God I don’t” (page 63). In that quote I find Holden trying to express his lack of knowledge in something that leads in to adulthood. Holden’s misunderstanding is holding him back from journeying into the realm of adult; he holds this as alienation towards society.
Towards the end of the novel; the reader sees Holden explaining to his sister Phoebe what he wants to be “the catcher in the rye.” He over hears a child sing a song and misinterprets what the song really is saying. From this Holden had decided that he wants to be “the catcher” in the rye; who saves the children from falling out of innocence and into the knowledge of the adult world. I see a parallel in this part of the story and the banning of books in universities.
University campuses think that it is within their right to say what is appropriate for students to read. I do not see how it is morally right for a college to breach on one’s First Amendments ability in Free speech. Universities have an obligation in protecting their students from what they believe to be immorally wrong in viewing; but they need to consider the students First Amendment rights in their freedom toward speech.
Salinger, J. D. The Catcher In The Rye. New York: Bantom Books, 1951.