2015 Student Research Conference:
28th Annual Student Research Conference

The Marriage of Style and Sociocognitive Complexity in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye
Stephen P. Plassmeyer
Dr. Royce Kallerud, Faculty Mentor

As an iconic character of American literature and the protagonist of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is as well known for his peculiar narrative voice as he is for his red hunting hat. Salinger himself asserted that the narrator and his voice are so inseparably entangled that any attempt to remove Holden from his own first-person technique would serve to fundamentally change his character and his story. As an example of the interrelatedness of narrative style with the structure of a text, The Catcher in the Rye demonstrates the claim of cognitive theorist Lisa Zunshine that sociocognitive complexity in fiction or the degree to which minds are nested within the minds of others arises not only propositionally through dialogue but through the stylistic elements interweaved throughout the text. This paper will examine how narrative voice as a stylistic element in the structure of a text contributes to constructing a high degree of sociocognitive complexity for works of fiction such as The Catcher in the Rye.

Keywords: cognitive theory, theory of mind, sociocognitive complexity, unreliable narrator, narratology, J.D. Salinger, Holden Caulfield

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 405-4
Location: OP 2210
Time: 3:15

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