The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)

From 3/10/12 to 8/10/12

Synopsis

The book narrates the story of a 15-year-old named Holden Caulfield, who – after being expelled from several schools – ends up in one called Pencey. Then, he’s expelled once more and decides to leave, three days before he is supposed to go home. Except he doesn’t go to his house, instead he leaves to New York (where he lives) and stays in a hotel for those three days. In the space of that time he meets some new people, deals with feeling depressed and hating everyone around him and also drinks a lot. All Holden wants is to leave everything and everyone behind him and start a new life.

Characters

Holden Caufield: Holden is the main character and narrator of this story. He has no close friends, is a bit lonely and slightly depressed. He attends Pencey Prep School until he’s expelled. He lives in New York with his parents and his 9-year-old sister Phoebe. He also has a brother, D.B., who lives in Hollywood and is a famous film writer and author. He misses his younger brother Allie, who died from leukemia.

Phoebe Caufield: Phoebe is a 9-year-old girl who lives in New York, she’s Holden’s younger sister. She likes writing and is quite intelligent for her age. She attends the same school her brother did when he was smaller. She likes going to the park and rollerblading.

(There were many more characters but none of them really appear a lot throughout the book).

Personal Opinion

I first should start off by saying that the main two reasons that pushed me to read this book were how famous it is and that the man who killed John Lennon, Mark David Chapman, seemed to have an obsession with this book and I was curious to know if J.D. Salinger’s novel could really make someone kill another person. To be honest, the book was a complete disappointment.

It really surprised me to know that it was really short for all its fame (only 192 pages long) and after finishing reading it was even weirder to think those nearly 200 pages just narrate three days. I didn’t like it at all but I have to say it was really descriptive – that was probably the thing I liked the most. Although Holden’s way of actually describing people was beyond annoying.

“Phony”. I really cannot stand that word after reading this book, apparently every single person on earth is phony, or at least that’s how Holden describes literally everyone. The way he could say that word like 20 times in only a page made me just want to throw the book away of the annoyance. Then, it is not only the way Holden describes everyone to be like this but also his hatred for half the population of New York.

I really couldn’t stand how he’d be constantly insulting everyone no matter who they were. I mean, he even said he hated people with cheap suitcases. Cheap suitcases, for God’s sake. Half of the time I really just wanted to shout at him that maybe he’s the one that has a problem and not the rest of the universe, I don’t even care he’s a fictional character. Also, he was actually phony himself in a way. He was hanging around people (his room-mate,  the guy next door, etc.) but he wouldn’t really like them. So he’d pretend he liked them, which is kind of phony. I really think if Holden Caulfield was a real person and I ever met him I wouldn’t like him at all. He seems really cocky, always bitching behind people’s backs.

It’s not that the book was badly-written or anything, but I don’t see why people make such a big deal, it’s not that good anyway. I searched for some people’s opinions on the book and they all seemed to absolutely love it. I mean, even Green Day (band I’m a huge fan of) have a song titled “Who wrote Holden Caulfield?”. I told my dad about this and he said he didn’t like it either, he said it had an “American mentality”. I’m not sure if this is true and if such thing exists but he said something about them being different and how they “loved hamburgers when they are just a simple sandwich”, which I sort of agree with.

Anyway, at least this book has taught me that I don’t necesarily have to like or love a novel just because everyone else does and it’s popular.

Who would I recommend it to?

I’d  recommend The Catcher in the Rye to almost anyone (who is at least 13 or 14) that wants to know what this famous novel is, whether you end up loving it or disliking it like I do.Image

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