Tutorial letter 202/3/2014
FOUNDATIONS IN ENGLISH LITERARY
Semesters 1 & 2
Department of English Studies
FEEDBACK AND EXAMINATION GUIDELINES
FEEDBACK ON ASSIGNMENT 02
In this feedback letter, we have given you some pointers about how you could have answered the questions based on the following texts: Introduction to English Literary Studies, The Road to Mecca, The Catcher in the Rye, and When Rain Clouds Gather. We expected you to expand these ideas sufficiently in order to earn full marks. Please note that you will pass only if you do the following: (a)
write in paragraph format;
write an introduction in which you demonstrate that you are addressing or answering the question.
express yourself in intelligible English;
develop and substantiate your answers by providing evidence from your chosen text; and
avoid merely re-telling the story of your chosen text.
Assignment 02 (a)
The Catcher in the Rye
In this assignment, you were asked to write an essay in which you discussed the following:
The title of the novel is taken from a poem by Robert Burns. Write an essay in which you explain how this poem sums up Holden’s deepest desire, and how this theme is developed in the novel.
Below are some of the ideas you could have developed in your essay:
In this novel Holden is negotiating the transition from childhood to adulthood. This is not an easy journey and in many ways he resists it. It involves the loss of innocence, and the gaining of experience which accompanies the transition into adulthood. Holden tries to resist this loss of innocence and his desire to be „a catcher in the rye‟ is an expression of his need to save others, such as his sister Phoebe, his friend Jane, his classmate James Castle, from this same loss.
He regards adulthood as epitomised by phoniness – falsehood and falsity on the part of most of the adults he knows or meets – most adults in the story are fairly disappointing, in his eyes. His parents are peripheral, mostly acting as reminders of how he has let them down in one way or another, and perhaps reminders of the guilt he feels for not being able to „protect‟ Allie from death. His brother DB has „prostituted‟ his talents in Hollywood; even his teacher Mr Antolini, whom he admires most, turns out to have what Holden suspects are homosexual tendencies. Most of the adults in his life he considers have let him down in some way or another. Adulthood is characterised by sex, racial issues, lies and phoniness, issues Holden does not want to face.
In his desire to be a „catcher in the rye‟, Holden wishes to protect children and to prevent them from „falling off a cliff‟ – the motif of falling and its associations with death form a thread throughout the novel. He is unable to prevent James Castle from falling to his death, for instance, and he has a fear of death, which is associated closely with adulthood, growing older and, inevitably, dying. He tries to prevent Phoebe from making the transition to adulthood and his allowing her onto the carousel, in one of the final scenes in the novel, is symbolic of his acceptance that he cannot stop her growing up. However, he can be there to watch over her – something he could not do for his younger brother Allie; a sadness which plagues him throughout the novel.
Holden himself is a mass of contradictions – in appearance he is closer to an adult than to a child. He is very tall with greying hair. But in spirit he still has the innocence of a child about him – consider his retreat into the world of the movies whenever a crisis occurs, and his desire at times to behave like an adult (his meeting with the nuns, with his classmate‟s mother in the train, with the prostitute and pimp). His inability to follow through on the actions associated with adult behaviour suggests an unwillingness to...
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