Thursday, August 15, 2013

"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger (1951)

Rye catcher.jpg
The hero-narrator of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices - but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

  •  Firstly: after reading this, I definitely understand why this novel is so famous. It's well-written, fairly straight-forward, and yet chock full of petty observations, popular jargon, and convoluted emotions. This is the very epitome of teenage angst and drama. Holden's voice carries the very spirit of rebellion and growing up.
  • I have to admit, I didn't understand some of the slang used at first. For instance, Holden often says "it killed me", which I later understood to mean that something is really funny. I loved how the author incorporated that sort of lingo in.
  • Not to mention that the world is a bunch of phonies and Holden just hates on everyone. I couldn't help but laugh when I read his thoughts and observations on some parts, because they reminded me so much of myself a few years back, but now they just seemed absurd. My personal philosophy at the moment completely clashes with his, which just made the book's point so much more interesting to contemplate.
  • I absolutely loved Phoebe. No further comments, but I loved the interaction between brother and sister, and it brings some more of that human connection that Holden had been lacking earlier in the story, like his cold and distant relationship with his roommate and flatmate or with his history professor, or even with the prostitute.
  • Honestly, however, I was left a little bemused by the ending, which probably means very little, because my humble opinion as a Health Science student doesn't really count for anything in the literature world. But it seemed to me that at the end, Holden is simply coming to his terms with the world (he hates people, and yet he misses them once he's told their stories and they're gone), and he's going back to school (where he'll probably drop out again), and he's talking to a psychoanalyst and... that's it..? Of course, that's just how I saw it, and I'm probably missing some details. It was a fairly satisfying conclusion, given the style of the book anyway.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. A good work of fiction with a sadist, pessimist and a juvenile protagonist. Read the book for a ride from a teenager's mindset and it will tickle you.
    Most of you will read this book because probably you've read its name among the best novels of last century, but please know it that this book is a joyful ride that will lead you to nowhere.!