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The Catcher in the Rye Paperback – Jan 30 2001
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Salinger attended a military academy in Pennsylvania and three colleges.
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Top Customer Reviews
For the longest time I tried to keep my obsession with Salinger's only full-length novel to myself. Oh I would tell people I loved the book, or that Salinger was my favourite writer, but I honestly tried to not go further with it than that, to put a lid on it. I'd never have admitted that it wooed me to falling in love with New York forever, never mind the number of times I have read it, not including random flips for favourite passages. Or the fact that I somehow managed to write my Masters thesis on it, when my Masters was in applied linguistics not English literature.
That first 15 year-old time was not for school, which may be the key to everything. I read it fast, just a few days and I was not (and am not) a fast reader. Holden Caufield's breezy first-person narration was so much like conversation you just zipped through. The book's famous opening:
"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."
The book read so fast, so easy, so true I was convinced it was pure autobiography. Not even, cause autobiography still implies some semblance of putting together, of structure, work, effort.Read more ›
Holden is a troubled young adult who is afraid of growing up because he doesn't like grown ups and he wishes he could stay a child. Throughout the book Holden describes why he doesn't like grownups (I don't want to completely ruin the book for you so I won't tell you any reasons.) and why he loves children.
When I read Catcher in the Rye I was really moved at how J.D. Salinger used various symbols throughout the book to help you get inside the mind of Holden Caulfield. The main symbol in the book when holden talks of being the catcher in the rye and standing on the edge of the field keeping the children from falling off. What Holden means by this is that he just wants to keep kids from falling off the cliff and dying (child dying and becoming an adult). Holden beleives children are innocent and he respects them completely. I really thought it was neat that although Holden curses every five to six words throughout the book, when he talks about any child he doesn't curse at all. This is one way that J.D. Salinger shows holdens respect for children in the book.
I must add that even though I absolutely loved this book, friends of mine said they didn't like the book because there were too many symbols and they didn't catch them all therefore the book didn't make much sense to them. I must say this could be a problem for many people. I have read The Catcher in the Rye several times and every time it never fails but I seem to catch something new that I missed before. This is one of the many reasons why this book is one of my favorites. Give it try!Read more ›
The theme that struck me the most was the one of trying to grow up too early. Holden is very much like this. He presents himself as a mature figure, smoking, drinking, hanging out in clubs, yet in his personal relationships with people, he acts quite immature. In one part of the story, Holden calls up a prostitute, wanting to become a man after all the stories he had heard about girls from his class mates at Pencey Prep, only to acquiesce to his lack of experience and asks if the prostitute would "like to talk".
My main complaint of this novel is that it reads like a journal, giving only Holden's perspective on the events that occur. I believe it would have been an improvement if Salinger had given us a look into other character's minds so we could see their perspective. This is an especially important flaw because Holden, at his center, constantly wonders what others think of him.
I would recommend this novel to teenagers, especially those who feel they do not fit into their particular environment. I know when I was younger I could definitely relate to Holden. I also find it a delicious irony that much like Holden, J.D. Salinger has spent the better part of a century in seclusion in his Northeast home.