Please respond to the following five problems to the best of your ability; thereafter, respond to a post by one of your classmates. The deadline for the primary post of this discussion activity is 11:59 PM PST Thursday September 6, and the deadline for your peer response is 11:59 PM Friday September 7.
Why do you think Holden chooses to write Stradlater’s essay about Allie’s baseball mitt?
Why does Holden fantasize about jumping out of a window? What do you think this fantasy suggests about him?
This week, you will briefly study Literary Theory (Chapter 6 of WEAL) and its various schools of thought. This study will provide you with different lenses through which you may view literature. Each school of thought will require you to approach a story and/or its parts in a different way. For this week, I will apply the Psychoanalytic and Cultural schools of critical theory to the following discussion questions; please be advised that the questions are very dense and will require a great deal of thought:
Psychoanalytic critic would ask:
Keeping in mind that the unconscious consists of repressed wounds, memories, fears, unresolved conflicts, and guilty desires, how do the operations of repression either structure or inform The Catcher in the Rye? That is, what unconscious motives are operating in Holden; what core issues are thereby illustrated through his actions; and how do these core issues structure or inform the piece of literature? In short, what is Holden psychologically carrying with him, and how does it shed light upon or govern the structure and direction of the story?
Cultural critic would ask:
Taken as a part of a “thick description” of American culture during the Postwar era, what does Catcher add to our tentative understanding of human experience in that particular time and place, including the ways in which individual identity shapes and is shaped by cultural institutions? Plainly put, what can we gather about American cultural norms, sensibilities, and practices of the Postwar era after reading this text? How and in what way do Holden, the things he says, the things he does, the things that are described and happen around him or to him represent that era?
Theme of Catcher:
Theme is a significant literary element, and pages 40-44 of your WEAL handbook examine a few different guidelines for identifying themes. Once you have read the descriptions provided on the aforementioned pages, respond to problems 1, 3, and 6 under “Thinking on Paper about Theme” (p. 44).