“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. SalingerThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Published: 2001 by Bay Back Books
Genres: Fiction (General), Young Adult
Pages: 277
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
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People either love or hate The Catcher in the Rye, with very few in between.  I personally enjoy it, my boyfriend hates it, one of my closest friends loves it, and don’t even ask for opinions of it on internet forums.  I have read and re-read this book many times, as it was one of the three books written in English that I brought with me when I studied abroad.  “Nobody’s doing anything tonight and I got my homework done early.  What else is there to do in the winter in Russia?  Guess I’ll just have to reread The Catcher in the Rye.”

The novel is about Holden Caulfield, a teen who runs away from his pretentious boarding school because of feelings of alienation.  He hops a train to New York, wanders around, and has an incident with a prostitute (basically, epic fail) and a pedophile teacher.  In the end, the entire experience teaches him nothing and he feels as empty and detached as he did at the beginning of the novel.  Holden’s one redemption his love for his sister–throughout the novel, he keeps thinking of her and attempts to get her a present.  His feelings toward his sister can be interpreted on a deeper level as a desire to protect the innocent from the feelings of  phoniness that he has about his own life and the lives of the adults he encounters.  He views children as innocent and in a way misses that life.

The fact that Holden doesn’t learn from his experience frustrates a lot of people, but it was one of the things that I liked about this book.  In real life, people don’t always learn from their mistakes, and teenage angst fades with age rather than experience.  I also think that part of the reason why so many teachers use this book in the classroom might be to show teens someone filled with more angst than themselves.

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12 comments

  1. I haven’t read it in years but I absolutely LOVED it. I guess I could relate because I live in New York and at a young age ran away. Overall though the writing is phenomenal. Kudos 🙂

  2. Personally, I hated the book, but…what i really enjoyed was the spark notes about the book. (I use them sometimes to get good book club discussion questions) There was quite a bit in the book that I never would have caught. I’m not big on symbolism…and there’s a lot of it in this book.

  3. You are so right about this book evoking extreme reactions from people. I love it though. To me its the definitive teenage angst saga. A sort of Trainspotting for teens.
    Anyways, great blog, I’m your newest follower.

    1. I like the Trainspotting analogy. “The Catcher in the Rye” is one of the few books I’ve read where almost any discussion about it can turn into a heated argument.

  4. I love this book! I’ve read it 3 times and I’m sure I’ll read it a few more times over the years. Yesterday I saw someone wearing a “Catcher in the Rye” T shirt and I really wanted to buy one. Thanks for your review!

  5. Well, count me in with those who really love this book. This is one of my favorites and when I first read this in high school, I could really relate to Holden – not necessarily the angst, but more of his views towards people and his anti-social tendencies.

    Anyway, this is one of the books I’ve read and re-read countless times.

  6. Unfortunately, I have to say I hated the book!

    However, I will say I wasn’t frustrated by the fact he didn’t learn anything and actually think that is a great idea.

    What annoys me about it is that people say “it doesn’t matter that it’s not a great story it is a great representation of the time”

    This annoys me as there are hundreds of books that are great representations of their time but still have a brilliant plot as well!

    Anyway, each to their own and I still appreciate the joy it brings to so many readers. Just not for me 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment =D

      One of the things that I love about Catcher in the Rye is that it creates a dialogue; whether people love it or hate it, everyone has different reasons and something to say.