In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, protagonist Holden Caulfield runs across an obscenity scribbled on an elementary school wall and tries to rub it out so that young children won’t be exposed to its ugliness.
The scene is memorable for a couple of reasons, one being that Salinger preserves the word’s power by using it only a few times in the scene. That stands in contrast to media today that invoke this particular obscenity over and over, as a verb, a noun and an adjective, to the point that it loses its impact.
So, how does this affect your ?
Preserve the power of important words by not overusing them. Invoke the words and ideas you want your people to remember only when they fit.
— Adapted from “What J.D. Salinger Taught Me About Literary Use of the F-Word,” Roy Peter Clark, Poynter Online.
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