Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Catcher in the Rye | J.D. Salinger


Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

While the book had a slow start, I think it really does pick up by the end. 

While Holden does come across as an annoying, whiny teenager, it takes a while for the reader to realize they are Holden. I believe that every teenager, adult, and kid has a part of them that is Holden. A part of them that is unhappy with life. A part that hates everyone and everything. I know even I could connect with him at some points. 


Honestly there's not too much I have to say about this book. Although at its core this book was essentially about "nothing" there were subtle themes. Some people will love this book, others will hate it. I personally don't think it's a timeless class