Reading The Catcher in the Rye as dystopian fiction requires critical responsibility to evaluate the ethicality of the protagonist's sense of others and self, to assess the moral nature of the novel's dystopian world, and to evaluate the protagonist's agency or capacity to change his world or himself. The novel presents a multifaceted dystopia existing on multiple planes in the social dogma, the reality of the presented world, and Holden's mind before and after his paradigm shift. The dystopian aspects present in the novel highlight basic ideological systems as well as agency and action within the structure. The dystopian elements of the novel alter standards for ethical judgment. The ethical discussion shifts to focus on the possibility of agency, ability to change, and perceptions. Using these standards shows the dystopian-saturated world and reveals Holden as a changed character who transitions from unethical, complicit victim to ethical agent. The Catcher in the Rye provides a case study of corrupted societal structure and the possible outcomes for readers and critics. The dystopian genre expands through the inclusion of The Catcher in the Rye and extends the standards for ethical analysis to other dystopian novels.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Toone, Megan Marie, ""[B]reaking down the walls, and crying to the mountains"--Isaiah 22:5: Dystopia and Ethics of The Catcher in the Rye" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 5855.
Dystopia, Ethics, Catcher