I promised a review of The Catcher in the Rye AGES ago, so here it is. This review was fun to write because i make it a point to read this novel every few months. It’s honestly one of my all time favorites (Which is quite an honor because picking my favorite books is always tedious.)
Anyway i will start off with a summary of the plot and then get into the themes and symbolization and then end it off with a few notes and my comments about the book as a whole.
The book,written by J.D Salinger, is set in the 1950’s and is narrated by the main character, Holden Caulfield whose life and troubles at the time are the whole point of the book. Holden starts off the story,by making it clear he is at mental institution undergoing treatment he doesn’t divulge his exact location though. The story begins on a Saturday after classes end for the term at the boarding school Holden attends. He states that it’s the fourth school he’s attended, after having failed out of the last three. He also narrates that he failed four out of five of the subjects at Pency Prep and has just received notice that hes being expelled. The book then follows Holden as he leaves Pency three days earlier than hes expected back at home after deciding to go to New York and not tell his parents.
Holden’s New York adventures include; checking into a hotel, calling up a stripper whose number he got from an acquaintance back at his old school,flirting with three older ladies at the hotel bar,having the hotel elevator operator calling a prostitute to Holden’s room,a broadway date with an ex, meeting up with an old student adviser from one of his old schools, drinks with an old friend, sneaking into his parents apartment and talking to his little sister Phoebe who it seems he has quite a soft spot for, a confusion on whether Mr Antolini, his old English teacher is trying to make a homosexual move on him and after running away from the Mr Antolini’ s house. After going to Phoebe’s school and asking her to meet at a museum he tells her he plans on running away for good. They go to the zoo and Holden’s narrative ends here after he points out that he wont go into details about going back home and getting sick.
The title of the book comes from Holden’s fantasy of being “the catcher in the rye,” a person who catches little children as they are about to fall off of a cliff. He tells this to his sister and Phoebe tells him that he has gotten the poem wrong where he got his the image from: Robert Burns’s poem says “if a body meet a body, coming through the rye,” not “catch a body”.
The main theme of the book has to be loneliness and alienation, clearly depicted through Holden’s woes. One can say Holden uses this as a form of self-protection.For instance, his loneliness propels him into his date with Sally Hayes, but his need for isolation causes him to insult her and drive her away. He depends upon his alienation, but it destroys him. Another theme is growing up and the problems that come with it.According to most reviews, The Catcher in the Rye is a bildungsroman, a novel about a young character’s growth into maturity. While it is appropriate to discuss the novel in such terms, Holden Caulfield is an unusual protagonist for a bildungsroman because his central goal is to resist the process of maturity itself.
My last thoughts on the book, is that its amazing. It’s well written and any book lover would love it as much as i did. The plot is interesting and as it builds up it makes way for the reader to wonder what Holden will do next.
I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a serious read that’s also easy and laid-back.
Aaaaand thats it from me!
Happy Saturday everyone