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Active Nihilism on Holden Caulfield in the Catcher in the Rye

Author ZouXueLian
Tutor HuXiaoHua
School Xi'an International Studies University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye Holden Caulfield Friedrich Nietzsche Active nihilism
CLC
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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The purpose of this study is to research the active nihilism on Holden in Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Few critics have analyzed The Catcher in the Rye from the perspective of active nihilism. Through careful reading of the novel, the writer of this thesis finds that the novel best illustrates the protagonist Holden Caulfield’s active nihilism. Active nihilism points out that the new understanding of the world must be established on the basis of thorough overturn of the old moral value and principles, which is a symbol of improvement of spiritual power. Using the perspective of active nihilism to study the novel will be a big push to the research of The Catcher in the Rye. From the perspective of active nihilism, this thesis holds that the protagonist’s series of behavior in the novel are acts of his own salvation in a society where public morals are declining day by day. Holden is a brave fighter and a hero. This thesis concludes that since active nihilism cannot create new values, and it is just a road to the creation of new values, Holden can not create new values, either. Instead, he becomes a reluctant hero.

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