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The Catcher in the Rye

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I spent my summer reading a lot of the great American classics. You know, the ones you were supposed to read in high school, but really only read the Cliffs Notes to. It isn’t the same, really. But we were young, and so involved, and everything in the whole world was more important than literature.

So, we have the Catcher in the Rye. Please note that this novel is not about baseball or bread, as one might assume (or as I dimly assumed for many years). It is a story about a young boy, a wandering soul – about expectations, and finding your place in the big nasty world.

Holden Caulfield is a doll, and if he were real, I would pinch his sweet little cheeks. He is an unambitious 16 year-old who has just been kicked out of the prestigious Pencey Prep School in Pennsylvania for flunking four out of his five classes. He is immature yet introspective, and generally, the world annoys, depresses, and bores him.

The story is told by Holden, in his hilarious sarcasm, over the span of a few days in late December. There is no reference within the story to dates, but it was published in 1951, and showcases a lot of the styles and lingo of the time.

The plot is simple: Holden has “gotten the ax” from school, and “his father is going to kill him.” This is the fourth school Holden has flunked out of. But this story is about so much more than plot. The value is found in relating to his character, and maybe remembering the first time you realized how “phony” the world was.

The Catcher in the Rye is beautifully written; it is, after all, a classic. The narrative flows smoothly from one scene to the next, as if you were writing the story in your own head as it went. Holden Caulfield is timeless. He is each of our little brothers, he is pieces of ourselves, but caught in his own inimitable fate.

But what we really want to know is why this wonderful novel has been linked to murderers? And does this mean that if I carry the novel around with me in the pocket of a trench coat, I am likely to kill someone? Probably not, huh?

Laura Rae Amos
peaceandjellybeans.com

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About Laura Rae Amos

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Holden Caulfield is my idol. Some people have “gay-dar”; he only had “phony-dar.”

    And all he wanted was a life of having fun and protecting the innocent (being a “catcher” in the “rye”).

    Sadly, several lunatics have besmirched this wonderful work by carrying it around with them as they went on their murderous missions.

    I think they all owe Mr. Holden Caulfield (and the rest of the anti-phony crowd) a big apology…

  • SFC SKI

    When I was 14 or so, I read this book, and I think most people can identify with Holden Caulfield at that age, coming to terms with the world, etc.

    Now, I don’t have the time or patience to deal with his adolescent musings, I am old enough to be his father, I’d have to give him a talking-to, or a swift kick.

  • http://www.evilwhiteguy.com/blog Evilwhiteguy

    I’ve been meaning to read that book for years, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. But when I do (after watching Conspiracy Theory, hehe) I’ll make sure I pay cash for it at the bookstore.

  • Eric Olsen

    It was revolutionary at the time but rereading portions it seems a bit creaky and dated now. I much prefer anything else published by Salinger, which essentially means the Glass family saga, which remains astonishing.

    I hate to be ghoulish but I sure as hell am interested to see what comes out after he dies, since he’s be hoarding for 40 years now.

  • CateRz.__

    This book made me look at things in a totaly differnt way.
    I could realte to the charachter so much.
    He is my idol also.

  • wiener

    how many times is phony said in the catcher in the rye?

  • linnitea

    WITH SO MANY STRANGE MOVIES,PEOPLES PERSPECTIVES. BOOKS ARE AS ARTISTS SITTING AT A ROUND TABLE LOOKING AT A CUT LEMON.FROM WHERE I SIT I WILL SEE ONE VIEW YET WHEN I EXCHA.GE SEATS WITH A PERSON IN A NEW CHAIR I WILL THEN HAVE DIFF.INSITE.TO JUDGE OR CRITISE CLASSICS THAT ARE ONLY DONE.BECAUSE THOSE DOING SO HAVE ONLY. ONE. VIEWING IT IS UNFAIR A.ND I WOULD ENJOY ALL CLASSICS IN THE LIBRARY.