(Book) “The Catcher in the Rye” Review

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

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Yes, the featured image for the page! Being my personal favorite, “The Catcher in the Rye” is a book largely about the dissatisfaction of Holden Caulfield towards the majority of human, and even life itself. As depressing as it may sound, and it is, in fact, depressing to read, the book is powerful enough to influence one’s life, in a good or a bad way. Still, that is for a number of people; the other amount may think that the book is just plainly entertaining, reading Holden’s complaints which are absurd and even philosophical while the last percentage of the readers may simply believe that all of Holden’s narrations are merely childish rants.

So there are basically three groups of readers for “The Catcher in the Rye”; those who really like it, those who are purely entertained by it, and those who believe that Holden is just an unrelatable individual, or just plain mad. There is nothing wrong with any of those groups, though. J.D. Salinger really delivers the flow of thoughts of the story’s main character in a greatly subjective manner. This results in either readers find Holden in themselves or not finding the pieces of Holden’s persona at all, or even not affected by Holden in the slightest; Salinger’s decision to impose a certain value in pure subjectivity makes the work either being loved or hated most of the time. There is a really slim of a possibility that readers may think of the work as ‘acceptable’, as mentioned previously, but it is really slim because the book is too compelling in a lot of ways.

Holden Caulfield, a sixteen year old teenage boy with a unique mind of his own, decides to the things that he believe he would like to do, rather than doing the things that most people do, simply because he wants to. At times, he has really good reasons for believing so, but sometimes, he doesn’t really have any reasons. As problematic as this perception may sound, Holden’s behaviors are getting worse because he decides to ‘abandon’ the dorm that he is staying in because he is getting expelled anyway due to the failure in fulfilling the conditions in passing the subjects there. While he is doing really great in the dorm, at least for himself, things gets more and more enthralling while he strolls around New York before going home and face his family.

The story is basically Holden’s mind and his actions in performing an act of rebellion against his family and the society. Readers get to witness Holden’s thoughts on a lot of things, including literature, the movies, society’s behavior in general, the museum, intellectual people, his beloved little sister, the whereabouts of the ducks during the winter when lakes are frozen (I wonder about that,too! XD ) and many more others, serious or not at all. Holden is not the sole character in the story, though, there are a number of other characters in the story, some make direct appearances, while some appear in Holden’s minds through his mentions, and they are all realistic and believable with some having more personalities than the other. Actually, nothing much can be said about the story itself, because the first sentence of this post can summarize the entire book. The thing is, “The Catcher in the Rye” is more than a book about a seemingly weird and dissatisfied teenager, which might be inside us, even now! (at least for me 🙂 ).

First of all, the mind of Holden Caulfield. While not all people can agree with his flow of thoughts, it is undeniable that there are some truths in his words; Holden acts as a fictional bullhorn that can reach the non-fictional world of reality through his narrations. There is no absolution in a person’s mind, and one cannot say that he or she has never felt unhappy with the society; there are always dissatisfaction in one’s life, and most of the time, fear keeps a number of people in voicing them out. Holden, however, says what he wants and does what he wants. This serves as a literary peace that delivers a message to the society, an indirect megaphone representing part of the dissatisfied society, although not all.

Secondly, statements of Holden’s displeasure are not the ONLY thing available. There are also his descriptions about the things that he finds joy in, and they are often really simple things; such as seeing somebody getting excited in talking about a particular subject, reading a really good book, or seeing the innocence of little kids. This prevents the book from becoming a journal of complaints, but rather, a book about the view of life from one individual that is completely relatable for some and partly relatable for the others. While trying to voice out the unpleasantness within the society, Holden reminds all of the readers that the world is not all bad, and good things can be found in simplistic thoughts and actions, or at times, pure unreasonable behaviors.

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Another iconic literary object, Holden’s Hunting Hat. Source: https://id.pinterest.com/pin/575968239816492607/

Thirdly, the quotes. Those who really like Holden may view his words as words that can are insightful, motivational, or even as words to live by. His philosophical nature can really impact one’s point of view not only for the society, but also life itself. When his unhappiness and joy in the society are read further, readers can think about them and analyze them further, the delivery of Holden’s words, if it fits the personality of the readers, then it is possible for them to inject a piece of Holden Caulfield within their mind and heart.

Lastly, the book itself can be viewed in a number of scopes; one can view it simply as a book about the mind of a rebellious teenage boy, a book about the World War packed in a more ‘accessible’ manner, a book about a high number of allegorical and symbolical values concerning one’s transition to adulthood, or even a book of nonsensical sentences. The vast amount of perspectives available in viewing the book is definitely a positive point, even though not all of the perspectives are positive. This enables further analysis concerning various contents of the book for a variety of purposes, educational, psychological, or entertainment.

“The Catcher in the Rye”, although not for sure, CAN make one’s self to become Holden Caulfield.

On a more subjective note, you either hate or love Holden, but I believe no one can hate Phoebe 😀

Rating from me: 4.5/5

Is “The Catcher in the Rye” boring to you?

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15 thoughts on “(Book) “The Catcher in the Rye” Review

  1. Paul S says:

    Holden Caulfield is one of my favourite ever protagonists. That may make me sound like a phoney, but it’s true! I think I like him because he strikes me as a kind hearted kid, who couldn’t understand the unkindness of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheAliceFan says:

      Exactly! while a lot of people hate his ‘ramblings’, I personally believe that they are somewhat true, and innocence is just a really ideal part of life that gradually fades out the more one grows, while if they had remained, it would actually be good 😀

      Like

  2. oatmulk says:

    Ahhh the famous Holden Caulfield. I covered this book in school and I must say, I agree that you either love this character or hate him! I hated him but your review instilled a bit of nostalgia in me which makes me want to go back and re-read Catcher in the Rye.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Tea Mile says:

    Hi Hi! This is an unforgettable book. I wrote a blog post on it a long time ago and I think we share similar points. Would you like to read it? Also, can you elaborate on your World War point? Also I love your blog’s layout!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheAliceFan says:

      Thank you! yes, I am going to read your thoughts on the book shortly since I just love this book, and am curious about your opinion regarding it 😀

      As for the point regarding World War, I am still studying it in a greater detail, but based on the information I have acquired, “The Catcher in the Rye”, or rather, the character “Holden Caulfield” has been around even before the novel itself was written by Salinger. The novel that we have come to love (or hate) was completed by Salinger in 1950, but Holden Caulfield was born, as in created, as far as 1941, nine years before the novel’s completion. During the next few years, Salinger wrote a number of short stories featuring Holden and his family members, including Phoebe.

      In 1944 and the months that followed, Salinger brought his short stories featuring the Caulfield family members with him to the army, specifically, Salinger would be part of the Counter Intelligence Corps. During this period in the army, Salinger wrote short stories expressing his thoughts about the distorted ideology of war. Various endeavors would Salinger display during the years, until he was no longer in the army. Salinger then started to work on the novel “The Catcher in the Rye” in 1949, although shortly after exiting the army, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the war.

      Since the novel was stated to somewhat “autobiographical” by Salinger himself in an interview, it is only natural for a number of readers and critics to read the novel in a manner that treats Holden Caulfield as part of Salinger himself, where he instilled his thoughts and personal values into the character. Holden’s dissatisfaction towards the society, and his constant skepticism towards them in general could be interpreted as Salinger’s distrust towards the world during the world war when he was dispatched on missions. Although a teenager, Salinger might have incorporated the perspectives of a war veteran inside Holden, where he had witnessed the dark nature of humanity.

      In retrospect taken from a number of articles regarding Salinger, “The Catcher in the Rye”, notably the various interactions Holden have with several of its characters, may be the subtle depictions of the horrors of the war, where humans do not care about other matters aside from succeeding the missions, abandoning the innocence, getting their vision obscured by the murky nature of the battlefield. The deceptions, the attempt of several characters in rejecting Holden’s views, might be the symbols of a more serious repudiation of Salinger’s views as how the society could have been.

      Still, those are based on a number of articles taken along with my personal views, so it might make sense, and it might also sound absurd….nevertheless, thanks for stating your opinion for this review! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jilyancha says:

    I think I belonged to the second group of readers for the Catcher in the Rye. 🙂
    It has been a long time since I read it and if I remember it right, it was my psychology professor who recommended this book. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheAliceFan says:

      Great! Most of the ones I know just hate it XD , though I can understand why they feel that way towards the book.

      Getting a book recommendation from a professor is always a good thing! Our education system is lenient, so there are no compulsory readings of a certain work (we are free to read what we like as long as it is relevant to the course). Thus, I only picked it up after a friend of mine recommended it to me 🙂

      Thank you for commenting 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jilyancha says:

        You can’t put the book down after reading its first sentences, I guess. One of the most compelling first lines of a book I think. It stirs anyone’s curiosity. That is why people tends to hate hate it I think because it sets a bar so high at first, people expect something would happen in the end but then, it’s a realistic story so no explosive, fictional ending that happened.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TheAliceFan says:

        Yes, and that can be a good thing depending on the reader 😀

        I happen to be the one not minding any sort of occurrences, realistic or not. I just read on! My most ‘disliked’ elements of a book solely lie on two things, the first being the accessibility in terms of language, and the second is the story’s pacing. I don’t mind a slow pacing except for when the character presented is really flat and boring 😦 .

        In the case of Salinger’s book, however, I really enjoyed Holden’s narratives XD

        Liked by 1 person

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