Beyond Truth and Fiction: an Exploration of the Arbitrary and Inconsistent Construction of Self in J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye


The history of the unreliable narrator in fiction, characterizing narratives shaped by personal biases, mental instability, or intentional deception, has a rich history dating back to ancient Greek drama. This investigation into the historical trajectory and influence of unreliable narration focuses on J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye as a case study. Published in 1951, the novel intricately explores the complexities of its protagonist, Holden Caulfield, seen here as embodying the essence of an unreliable narrator. The analysis delves into Salinger's artistry as part of a broader examination of truth, perception, and storytelling reliability throughout literary history. By drawing parallels with archetypal forms of unreliable narrators, the analysis aims to uncover Holden's classification and unique role in the exploration of unreliable narration. A consideration of the literary techniques employed in the novel emphasizes their contribution to the overall impact of the work, prompting a reflection on the foundations of selfhood and the narratives that shape it within the broader context of the history of ideas.

Article history

Received 17 November 2023. Revised 27 December 2023. Accepted 02 January 2024. Published online 11 January 2024




English (en)


Queen SarkarKalinga Institute of Industrial Technology


Orbis Idearum Volume 11, Issue 2 (2023), 91-105
Regular Issue