Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories—particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme—With Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is fully of children. 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.
For some reason, I've always wanted to read this book. I'm not sure why. It's required reading at my school junior year, but something compelled me to read it NOW. I guess it's just that I've heard so much about it. So much praise from some people and so much hatred from others. The Catcher in the Rye is a book that you either love or hate. I wanted to see where I fell on the spectrum.
I loved this book. I really did.
Holden Caulfield was such an interesting narration. Some people want to marry him, others want to punch him on the face. I just want to give him a hug. He is so cynical yet still incredibly naive. Yes, he's whiny and possibly the biggest hypocrite every. But that's the point of this book. Reading a book narrated by a character with such a warped one-sided perspective on life was fascinating to me. Digging into the psychology behind Holden's character was so interesting to me. His character--while beginning to lose some of his mental sanity, was still so human in many ways. We especially see this through interactions with his sister.
Holden could never just be happy. There was always something wrong, he was always complaining about something. And while sometimes his judgement was way off... other times he could peg people to a T. He doesn't believe in people doing things for the sake of doing them. There's always an ulterior motive to Holden. And it's so so interesting going through all this with Holden and seeing things through his eyes.
J.D. Salinger himself is such a fantastic writing. There are so many passages that hit me, that I would reread just to absorb the words. And it really felt like this wasn't J.D. Salinger writing this book... it was like HOLDEN wrote the book. And to me, that's the best book, where the character development is that well. I really feel as though Catcher is one of the first true young adult books. It was published in 1951. At that time, not to many books were written in first person, and let alone from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old. It's so funny to me to consider that while so many things have changed Catcher has proven how somethings will remain the same.
Here's to a book that I'm actually looking forward to reading in English next year.