Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Rating: 4 stars

The initial impression this book gave me was that it was hopeless, useless pages of rabbles. At first, I didn't understand what in the world it wanted to get across (if anything at all) and I wondered if it would get better. After I finished, I still didn't really like it, didn't know why it was said to be one of the top Classics of all time. It felt like the author wasted all his time to write and the book was a waste of paper. But then, as I thought about it, I did manage to finish the whole book no matter how much opinions I have against it. It was interesting enough to get me reading. So after all it must not be too bad.

I re-read some parts of it and found the writing to be very funny and entertaining, thought not my usual style. The main character Holden Caulfield is a 16 year-old high school student who despised the students and teachers in the top schools (which he has been to and had been expelled on 4 multiple ocassions). He is not a dumb person but he didn't want to try because he felt like that all those other people are so unrealistic and full of pretense that disgusted him. One of the funnist part I read was about his grades, he failed every subject except English. 

There are a lot of deep morals and reasons that people should realise from reading this book. In between the seems-like-useless-banter of lines, J.D. Salinger presented morals that needed to be thought through before you can understand them. Are the people who Holden dislikes really that fake? Are they really that good? What kind of people deserves respect? Holden "has become an icon for teenage rebellion", and this book has always been on the 100 best English-language novels from 1951 to 2005 and many many people have read it and liked it. It's true, the more I think about what the author has written and what Holden did/thought (the books is essentially just about him, his actions and his thoughts), the more I get what the writer was trying to say and the themes such as identity and social relationships. 
This is not my favourite book, but it's definitely a book worthy of reading. It is one of the funniest and most interesting books I have read, no matter in style, writing or content. If you have time and my review hasn't put you off, you should pick it up some time. 

Synopsis from Goodreads

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. 


  1. I've wanted to read this book but not sure what it was really about(?). So your review has cleared it up more. Thanks for the review. :)

    1. No worries! It's a good read if you have the time. You might get a little annoyed after reading it for a few chapters, but then if you think back on it after you will kind of feel that the author did have a fair point. Or well, I did XD It's an interesting and different book to read.

  2. I read this when I was in Highschool and just found it completely hilarious! I wasn't aware then that it was a banned book years ago. It was one of the books, well at least for me, that felt relevant even in today's society even though it was written in the 1950's :) Thanks for the review:)