|The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
Bill has read this book
|Comment:I never read the Catcher in the Rye when I was young, maybe it was better that way. But over the years I had heard about this book mainly due to its association with Mark David Chapman (John Lennon‘s assassin) and John Hinkley (Ronald Reagon‘s would be assassin); suffice to say my interest was peaked. I wanted to see what in the book could have been found so fascinating by mentally unstable people such as these or as conspiracy theorists suggest what was the “trigger” in the book that caused these men’s actions to be set in motion. So, in my adult life, I read J.D. Salinger’s book – The Catcher in the Rye really knowing nothing more than I have already stated.
The story is told from the point of view of its protagonist, Holden Caulfield, as he lies in his bed at a west-coast mental institution. It appears that Holden is getting out soon and this may be his way of “cleansing” before he leaves. Holden shares his exact thoughts with the reader as he addresses them directly in more of a stream of consciousness than of a simple explanation. The reader shares intimate details of his emotional state of mind, his opinions, and all the twists and turns that one’s mind can take – mostly dark ones.
At first it was difficult reading in this manner, but I eventually got used to it. In fact, I found myself sympathizing with Holden – even though he may appear to be the poster child for attention deficit disorder (ADD). His character is one of innocence, unbridled honesty, and a total lack of tolerance for those he considers “phony” – traits that we may all relate to in some way or another. He relates to children better than adults and in fact considers himself a protector of children – something that gives insight to the book’s title.
The third son of a wealthy Manhattan family, the telling details the events that took place leading up to the previous Christmas break when Holden was expelled from Pencey Prep School. The year is 1949 and he leaves the school early after getting into a fight with his roommate. Unable to face his parents before his expected return, he spends the next two days in New York experiencing perverted behavior, drunken stupors, and a near encounter with a prostitute. You never really know how old Holden is, but some believe he is anywhere between the age of 15 and 17. His adult language, his mannerisms and the situations he gets into make him seem much older, however.
Holden eventually makes his way home to his beloved little sister, Phoebe, who appears to be the only one who can understand him. He decides to run away, but is swayed otherwise when Phoebe decides to join him. He disagrees and after getting into a fight with Phoebe, he decides to stay as he watches her ride the carousel in Central Park Zoo. For the first time in the story, he is filled with happiness at the sight of Phoebe riding the carousel.
Did I find what I was looking for in this book? Do I now have some sort of insight into the minds of people who are considered sick? Did I find the key phrase that triggers assassins to kill? No. But the honesty that J.D. Salinger shares with his readers as told through Holden Caulfield is mind opening to say the least. The Catcher in the Rye is definitely different and it is that difference that has made is both one of the most celebrated books of our time – as well as one of the most censored books. I can say that I have never read a book quite like this but I am glad that I experienced it. The key word in that last sentance is “experience” as this book is definitely an experience.
Posts Tagged ‘Holden Caulfield’
March 31, 2012 1 comment