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Customer Review

245 of 279 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic, July 5, 2001
This review is from: The Catcher in the Rye (Mass Market Paperback)
It is difficult to remember what it was like to read this book for the first time. It is also difficult to imagine a book where each new reading provides so much more illumination into the main character and his personality. I can remember finding Catcher to be funny the first time I read it. I now alternately find Holden to be walking a fine line between witty sarcasm and dangerous cynicism. He is funny, there is no way around that, but his belittling nature also causes him to dismiss much from his life that may not be perfect, but should be included. There is nothing that he, in the end, does not dismiss as being phony, whether it is the nuns with whom he shares a cup of coffee, the teacher at the end who most likely was just trying to help, the Egyptian wing of the museum, Pheobe's school...everything. As soon as one little detail slips in which is not completely on track with what he is thinking whatever it is he is contemplating becomes useless, phony, not worth dealing with. His humor is sharp and witty and I often laugh out loud while reading, but it is also an easy way for him to detach himself from a world which he no longer feels he belongs in, or wants to belong in. I can remember finding the ending ambiguous the first time I read it. I now see it as the only way it could end, with Holden finding happiness watching his sister Pheobe going forever in circles, and being able to pretend that that is never going to change. She is the one thing in his life which he still deems worthy of existence, and placing her on a merry-go-round is his best attempt to keep her there. Things change and grow and move on, but Holden refuses to accept this and is yearning to stop things forever where they are, to go back to when D.B. was a writer full of dreams and Allie was still alive. He mentions once how he used to take field trips to the museum, but how it was never the same and that takes something away from it. Even if the exhibit was the same, YOU would be different, simply by having traveled a bit farther in life, and this is what Holden is incapable of dealing with. The ending is Holden trying to keep the one thing in his life he still truly loves exactly the way she is. I can remember finding Holden's journey to be a bit all over the place. I now can see that there is not a single detail which Salinger does not use to illuminate Holden. On Holden's last night at school everything is covered with snow. He stands there holding a snowball looking for something to throw it at, but he can not bring himself to throw his snowball and disturb a fire hydrant or a park bench. Everything is peaceful under the snow and Holden can not bring himself to alter this just as he can not handle a world that keeps changing. Or there is Holden's history class, which he is failing. The only topic he is remotely interested in is the Egyptians and their process of mummification. The only thing he cares about is how to preserve things just as they are. I can remember enjoying this book the first time I read it. But I had no idea that with each subsequent reading I would find more and more to enjoy, and more and more evidence of Salinger's genius.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 28, 2011 9:24:58 PM PDT
Sabre Jet says:
Catcher in the rye. I thought my teen years were hard and confusing. First I had trouble linking the Title with the novel. Surely this book was mean't for boys. Leaves not too much moral for a women. Sorry, this is not my favorite book. Very boring at times.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2012 3:43:21 PM PST
geoffrey says:
a boy's book

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2012 3:45:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 26, 2012 3:47:54 PM PST
geoffrey says:
hi, thanks for your comment..i agree with you. you might enjoy JOYSCHOOL by elizabeth berg, and the movie BEAUTIFUL GIRLS with natalie portman.

Posted on Sep 25, 2014 2:05:59 AM PDT
Crystal Rose says:
I am very annoyed that you gave the ending away!! You should have written "SPOILER ALERT!" Learn to write a book review that doesn't ruin it for other people!

Posted on Sep 25, 2014 2:11:37 AM PDT
Crystal Rose says:
I am very annoyed that you gave the ending away!! You should have written "SPOILER ALERT!" Learn to write a book review that doesn't ruin it for other people!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2015 5:31:39 PM PDT
meant not mean't. What does "...not too much moral for a woman" mean?? Why did you captalize title?

Posted on Jan 18, 2016 2:16:43 PM PST
If Holden Caulfield accurately represented every young person than it would be a great book. It doesn't accurately represent every young person, not even most of them I think, or the world would be a real mess.

Holden Caulfield has no belief system. This is a sure path to lack of successful identity.
JD Salinger himself, the son of Jewish parents, became a Buddhist, then a Hindu, then other '-isms' including Dianetics, an early version of Scientology. This is hardly universal.

The exact opposite of Holden is Theresa in "Empress Theresa".

Theresa goes on a journey of self-discovery. On page one she says, "But when this story began I was a little girl who didn't have much of a clue about anything." Near the end of the story she asks herself, "How did I come so far?" Theresa has arrived at her true identity.
Life is all about identity.
Identity has two components. One is permanent, the name on our birth certificate. That doesn't change. The other changes. We are what we do.

The five rules of identity:
1. the only person we can trust about everything is God
2. we believe whom we trust
3. we know what we believe
4. we do what we know
5. we are what we do

Come along on Theresa's journey. Enjoy!
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