Catcher In The Rye by J.D Salinger is an eye-opening story of a boy who seems to be lost. Within this appears to be a simply written book, there are a lot of different dimensions. Holden Caulfield, the portrayer of the story is almost going through a sort of mid-life crisis, even though he is only 16 years old. He expects much more in adulthood than simply getting a job, getting married and having kids. He wants to do more than sit in an all boys’ college full of ‘phoneys’ as he likes to call them that sees nothing more in life than just getting through it.
The story starts with Holden sitting in his dorm, with the news of him being kicked out of the college as he has failed every subject apart from English. He soon decides to live in New York for a few days to sort himself out before heading back home to give his parents the news. During his stay he has multiple breakdowns and reminisces over a girl named Jane which he knew as a child. His sister quickly convinces him not to run away, and Holden declares that he is happy. At the end of the book we hear him one year later, in therapy and does not think that his next school will be any different to the last.
Throughout the time that Holden spends in New York, he exclaims the fact that he wants to save innocence – as seen when he meets up with his sister and sees how mature she already is, and talks a lot about his childhood and his brother Allie that had died. All he truly wants to do is save these children from growing up. The whole story takes you through how Holden is struggling with the pain and anger of having to go through adulthood and memories of Allie – the most inspirational person that was in his life. It is the only thing that he can truly think about, and he does not want anyone, especially his sister, to have to experience the agony of adolescence. This is shown through a speech that he says to his sister when he has finally plucked the courage to go home.
“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little games playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catch in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”
It is as if he wants to stop kids from falling into the trap of adulthood – the trap of being selfish and ‘phoney’. Seeing Holden develop and grow throughout the book is very interesting.
Another quote that really struck me:
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
I thought that it was interesting as I almost felt the same way with this book, as I would like to see what was going through Salinger’s mind at that time as he was in the military when he first started writing it.
I would of course read any other books written by Salinger and I am excited as I have heard a rumour that they have found 5 unpublished works by him, and they are scheduled to be published over the next few years. Catcher In The Rye is written in an interesting way – almost as if Holden is personally speaking to you and telling his story, which to me is quite appealing.
I must admit that I had low expectations of this book from the start as many people say that nothing happens and the main character is boring and extremely repetitive, but that was not true in my opinion. Even though Catcher In The Rye was written over 60 years ago, Holden’s thoughts and feelings are still relatable to teenagers today. Not much happens, but that does not mean that it did not make you think about how you personally feel about blooming into adulthood.
Overall, I thought that the book was very underrated, and Holden Caulfield is certainly a likeable character that you really feel sympathetic towards.