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