In J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger uses humor as his tone of the novel to show Holden’s cynical outlook on the world and also to lighten the dark tones of the entire novel. For instance, Salinger often uses an oxymoronic sentence to portray this humor.
Holden attempts to avoid writing Stradlater’s composition for him by fooling around and tap dancing. He did this for no other reason than his own personal amusement “.. I backed up a few feet and started doing this tap dance, just for the hell of it. I was just amusing myself.” (Salinger 16) Holden amuses himself to distract Stradlater, but also himself. He distracts himself because he wishes to escape from the pressure of the world. This is one of the first conflict shown in the book. Also, it is Holden’s expression of how he feels towards something. Holden reveals an opinion, but then he practically ignores it by starting to tap dance. Salinger used Holden’s sense of humor to show his childish side, and also to help readers connect with Holden. Without the childish and witty humour the book may have put off readers because of how sad and dark the novel was.
Holden meets the mother of one of his classmates and lies through his teeth about why he is out of school early. He says he has a brain tumor and she believes him. This doesn’t seem funny at the moment, but, to the reader the fact that he isn’t sick at all and is always talking about how horribly he lies adds a tone of hilarity to the situation. “It isn’t very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain.” “Oh, no!” She put her hand up to her mouth and all. “Oh, I’ll be alright and everything! It’s right near the outside. And it’s a very tiny one. They can take it out in about two minutes.” (Salinger 31) . Salinger is demonstrating Holdens mockery of adults. Holden says it “kills him” that Mrs. Morrow uses the name he told her was his name. This adds an example of Holden’s distrust towards adults. He didn’t…