Object 1: JD Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye
May 27, 2021
This novel by JD Salinger was published in 1951 and was controversial because of the references to prostitution, premarital sex and alcohol abuse. Due to its controversy, the novel was banned and challenged numerous times. However, it’s also been admired by many others as changing the course of post-WWII writing.
This novel is particularly interesting for this exhibition because it has been challenged – it involved a teacher losing his job in the 1960s in Oklahoma, and it’s been removed from book lists across the United States. Nevertheless, this novel has also been listed in top book lists for the twentieth century and inspired the 41st U.S. President calling it a “marvellous book”. This suggests that this novel has been interpreted differently through the decades, especially when it caught the media’s attention.
This novel raises the challenges that appear through the dissemination of knowledge, as there were several interpretations of what JD Salinger was trying to communicate to the readers.
This novel also enriches this exhibition because even though after a few members of the Washington School Board claimed that the book was part of an “overall communist plot” and was banned for several other reasons including the sexual references, blasphemy… it nonetheless remains the second most taught book in public schools in the United States. Thus, the knowledge communicated through The Catcher in the Rye exposes the challenges that may arise when a novel can be used as an educational tool while simultaneously some elements and themes can be seen as a threat to society.