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The Catcher in the Rye Paperback – January 30, 2001
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Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,
"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."
His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Novel by J.D. Salinger, published in 1951. The influential and widely acclaimed story details the two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, he searches for truth and rails against the "phoniness" of the adult world. He ends up exhausted and emotionally ill, in a psychiatrist's office. After he recovers from his breakdown, Holden relates his experiences to the reader. --none --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book starts off with Holden Caulfield ( our protagonist ) in a hospital in Southern California narrating the story of his previous December's adventures in Pennsylvania and N.Y.C. The reader doesn't know whether it's a mental or physical hospital. Maybe that is one of the debatable points of this book. Anyway, he is being expelled from Pencey Prep in Pennsylvania. The reader gets the feeling that this isn't the first school that he's been thrown out of. He doesn't seem to see why learning is important, doesn't get along with his teachers, or roommates, and doesn't seem to respect his very successful parents. And what does his `red hunting hat' symbolize? He heads to N.Y.C. several days before his parents will receive the letter from Pencey Prep saying that he has been expelled. In N.Y.C., he books a cheap hotel and pines about his life. He likes to drink, smoke and make an ass of himself. He contacts previous girlfriend Sally, and makes a mess of things. He constantly thinks about calling another old flame Jane, but never does. He contacts his sister Phoebe, and an old teacher Mr. Antolini. The crux of the story is what happens on his adventures in N.Y.C, and the big debate with literary scrappers is : What's up with his mental health, and what does his movements mean? As far as this reader is concerned- who cares, just read and enjoy!
I wonder after reading this book if this Holden Caulfield character is really J.D. Salinger as a young man. I had the same feeling when reading John Irving's 'In One Person'. Anyway, you literary debaters, I think if you re-read page 170 you will find out how Holden Caulfield really feels about school and life: "You ought to go to a boy's school sometime. Try it sometime," I said. "It's full of phonies, and all you do is study so that you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques". Metaphorically speaking, I think Holden was literally drowning in boredom. Anyway, enough thoughts about Holden Caulfield's mental state that is being puppeteered by the cloistered J.D. Salinger! Just grab a copy and form your own opinions.
I certainly found the narrative engaging, and I really enjoyed the authenticity with which Holden seemed to speak and express himself, but, while I identified with much of the way he felt and (re)acted, and the internal monologues were simply dead-on perfect, I never really connected with anything until I was nearly 90% finished. Perhaps had I read this when I was younger it would have affected me more, but now, as I try to find or create a connection, I'm just left... Well. I'm just left.
It was Mr. Antolini's note to Holden that finally grabbed my attention.
"It is the mark of an immature man that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while it is the mark of a mature man that he wants to live humbly for one."
I was told I was too immature recently, and it just killed me. "Boy, it really did."
I tried to figure it out and tried to understand how I gave that off. Without truly knowing what I was doing, I think I realized that I had given up on the option of living humbly (or living at all) for any cause at all long ago. Whether it be something, someone, or just myself. At some point I was finally able to see something in front of me and felt like I understood what it was to live for something. Not just, as I've often thought in the past, to be the catcher in the rye for anyone who strayed too close to the edge but to be the catcher for a specific reason... and to equally allow the possibility that I also, at times, might need a catcher myself. I wish I had the gift of speech and introspection such that I could have so succinctly put my thoughts, feelings, and actions into words.
This epiphany... or at least the motivation for it... evaporated quite quickly, and I, missing the point, fell back into searching for something for which I could nobly die.
To see Holden cry for and over his little sister for whom he obviously held a great respect and had the utmost love, come to the conclusion that he should not tell anyone anything was quite rather depressing. I waver, but is it worse to live in fear of missing someone and, therefore, remain isolated or is it worse to allow yourself to catch and be caught and, inevitably, miss those who caught you and are now gone? Did he "really like" people who were dead precisely because the only thing left to do was miss them? Knowing there was no hope of actually being open with those that he'd lost and, therefore, no risk in missing them more seems like the perfect depressing escape. One with which, in the past, I likely would have agreed completely. I still struggle with that question today, and I honestly don't know the answer, but I am glad this book turned out the way it did giving me another pretty clear perspective into one potential answer to one of life's most important questions.
For Holden to have kept Mr. Antolini's paper (especially in a way that seemed meaningful to him) and still arrive at his final conclusion was a bit jarring. Especially in light of the final scenes when he *should* have been able to see the cause right in front of his face, even if he couldn't realize that he himself was cause enough.
Sooo... I had to try pretty hard to pull something out of this that seemed to really matter to me, but I think I got it. Or at least I got something. Overall, enjoyable, but nothing particularly amazing. At least I can now say that I've read it.