Catcher In The Rye Death Essay Introduction

Holden suffers deeply from survivor's guilt.  He laments his brother Allie's death, saying it should have been him to have died instead.  Much of the novel is a rant against being left alone in a phony, materialistic adult world.  In other words, Salinger uses Holden's narration to comment on the death of innocence.

The other death that deeply bothers Holden is James Castle's.  James Castle was a martyr who fell to his death rather than...

Holden suffers deeply from survivor's guilt.  He laments his brother Allie's death, saying it should have been him to have died instead.  Much of the novel is a rant against being left alone in a phony, materialistic adult world.  In other words, Salinger uses Holden's narration to comment on the death of innocence.

The other death that deeply bothers Holden is James Castle's.  James Castle was a martyr who fell to his death rather than take back “conceited.”  Holden romanticizes his death and reveres him as a saint, like Mercutio and the nuns--those who martyr themselves or the good life for a noble or humble cause.  Holden seems to think that it is better to die young than to become an adult materialist like his parents, brother, and nearly every adult he meets.

He seems to be headed toward a similar suicide until he meets Mr. Antolini.  He is a former teacher who found Castle’s body and shielded it from rubber-necks.  He is a catcher in the rye, the voice of Salinger--Mr. counter-culture.

Antolini's advice to Holden's is Salinger's advice to us.  He says Holden is “in for a terrible fall”:

"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."

Holden doesn't yet know what his cause in life is.  I think it's the book, his confession about the pain his brother's death has caused him.  So, in the end, the book saves Holden from suicide.  The book itself is the catcher in the rye.

Ah, great question.  For an essay about literature, a great topic sentence needs to clearly state what it is that you're trying to convey in your essay.  In other words, what is it specifically that ties together the deaths of Allie, James, and Holden's innocence? 

Something along the lines of this might be helpful to start with:

Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, it is evident that death and loss are major themes. 

Then,...

Ah, great question.  For an essay about literature, a great topic sentence needs to clearly state what it is that you're trying to convey in your essay.  In other words, what is it specifically that ties together the deaths of Allie, James, and Holden's innocence? 

Something along the lines of this might be helpful to start with:

Throughout The Catcher in the Rye, it is evident that death and loss are major themes. 

Then, once you establish the clearly defined scope of your writing, you'll want to go into identifying the specific examples that support your assertion (that it's a major, recurring theme). 

For example...

Holden spends a good deal of time discussing his feelings about his brother, Allie, who died when he was still very young.  There is no doubt that Holden feels the effects of this loss even to the point of his writing his account. 

Also, depending on the type of teacher you have, he/she may allow you to be a bit more creative in your writing.  For example...

Experiencing loss and the death of a loved one are some of the most difficult occaisions in anyone's life, and in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is no exception to the pains associated with such events. 

Best of luck with it, and if you need more help, just ask!  Why not start a thread on the discussion board?  Also, check out the great enotes resources on writing.

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