Banned Books Awareness: “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger


Within two weeks of its 1951 release, J.D. Salinger’s novel rocketed to Number 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.  The book- which explores three days in the life of a troubled 16-year-old boy- has been a “favorite of censors” ever since its publication.

In 1960, school administrators at a high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, fired an English teacher for assigning the book to an 11th-grade class.  He was later reinstated after winning his appeal.

Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States. In 1981, it was both the most censored book and the second most taught book in public schools in the United States.

According to the American Library Association, The Catcher in the Rye was the 13th most frequently challenged book from 1990–2000.  It was one of the 10 most challenged books in 2005.

Here’s a breakdown of just the current dacade alone:

  • 2010 – Challenged and or banned for offensive language, being sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.
  • 2009 – Challenged in the Big Sky high School in Missoula, Montana.
  • 2006 – Challenged for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
  • 2005 – Challenged, but retained as an assigned reading in the Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine.
  • 2002 –  Removed in South Carolina as a “filthy, filthy book”.  Challenged and retained in Georgia due to profanity.
  • 2001 – Challenged repeatedly because of complaints that the book contained sex, violence, and profanity.

The challenges generally begin with vulgar language, citing the novel’s use of words like “goddamn”, with more general reasons including sexual references, blasphemy, undermining of family values and moral codes, Holden’s being a poor role model, encouragement of rebellion, and promotion of drinking, smoking, lying, and promiscuity.

Often, the challengers have been unfamiliar with the plot itself. Shelley Keller-Gage, a high school teacher who faced objections after assigning the novel in her class, noted that the challengers “are being just like Holden … They are trying to be catchers in the rye.”
A reverse effect has been that this incident caused people to put themselves on the waiting list to loan the novel, when there were none before.

Mark David Chapman, who assassinated John Lennon, was carrying the book when he was arrested immediately after the murder and referred to it in his statement to police shortly thereafter.  John Hinckley, Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was also reported to have been obsessed with the book.

*to read the previous discussion thread visit my original posting of this article on Facebook*

Source: American Library Association, Time magazine, Marshall University

© 2011 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions


zach #permalink

I am using a lot of this information on my research paper about banning books in America thank you for the good information

Book Censorship #permalink

[…] libraries and schools and yet is also one of the most-taught books in public schools in the USA (Banned Books Awareness: “The Catcher in the Rye;” R. Wolf Baldassarro). However, a recent news story by ABC news, “Redacting Racism: Edit of Classic […]

“I Heard About this Book Called ‘Catcher in the Rye’…” « Used Books in Class #permalink

[…] “banned book” pedigree  interests both conformist and non-conformists. According to Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and […]

Book Banning | Lost in a Good Book #permalink

[…] is another article by R. Wolf Baldassarro from 2011 that discusses the apparent issue with Catcher in the Rye which […]

Banned Books Awareness: “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” « Musings from a Candlelit Chamber #permalink

[…] 1984 2. To Kill a Mockingbird 3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 4. On the Origin of Species 5. Catcher in the Rye 6. Of Mice and Men 7. The Lord of the Flies 8. The Lord of the Rings 9. […]

Banned Books Awareness: “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” | Banned Books Awareness #permalink

[…] 1984 2. To Kill a Mockingbird 3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 4. On the Origin of Species 5. Catcher in the Rye 6. Of Mice and Men 7. The Lord of the Flies 8. The Lord of the Rings 9. […]

bingo #permalink

There is a lot of banned books in America, thanks for sharing this good post with us.
youtube proxy

10 Crazy Literary Conspiracy Theories | #permalink

[…] many argumentative novels of all time. From 1961 to 1982, J.D. Salinger’s story of teen angst was the many censored book in American schools and libraries. While relatives have objected to a novel’s impertinence and […]

Sonia #permalink

That was mind blowing article. Great effort you made. I can feel your effort to write that article.

make money online #permalink

Nice post Sir. I like it very much.This is really very informative.I was looking for this exact information from last 2 day.

khaled #permalink

thanks for this post it's soo usefull

Paco #permalink

Thank for this great post. I really help me

newsmint #permalink

Thanks for this wonderful post admin…


Leave your comment