Catcher in the Rye: Flasback Technique

What is achieved by the flashback technique of looking back to events that have already happened?

Holden begins his narrative by looking back into the past.   He refers to events that have already taken place.   This flashback technique is a scene or event from the past that appears in a narrative out of chronological order which allows the author to fill in information and to provide details of the background story.   It also allows for the introduction of important details from the past to explain something in the present, without having to tell the whole story from beginning to end. By using flashbacks the reader is drawn into Holden’s story and his memories.  

Holden is in a rest home or sanatorium in California far away from where the novel plays out which indicates to the reader that the narrative is a series of flashbacks. Throughout the novel Holden gets the reader to share his experiences by addressing the reader directly, saying things like "If you really want to hear about it. . ." Holden is actually speaking to the psychoanalyst in the story, but at the same time, he appears to be directly addressing the reader.

Holden takes the reader back to the day he leaves Pencey Prep, one of the many schools from which he has been expelled. When he flashes back to the day he left Pencey Prep, he is pictured alone, standing on top of a hill. He has risen above the pettiness and phoniness of Pencey and looks down on it, both literally and figuratively. It is a Saturday just a few days before Christmas vacation. In the flashback, Holden is going to visit his history teacher. Before he reaches the teacher’s house, Holden stands on the hill overlooking Pencey, searching for a sense of closure. He wants to leave town with a positive thought about the school, even though he has been expelled. He thinks hard to come up with a pleasant memory and recalls an evening football game with friends. He is satisfied that this recollection is positive enough....