Review: The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

'It teaches us that time is infinite, with many great stories to tell in-between, this is just one of them.'

Let’s just say that The Catcher in the Rye wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, however I find it an intriguing and provocative read with important (and sometimes frightening) themes of depression, independence and youthful rebellion at its core.

To say this was written in the 1950’s, it’s an extremely contemporary book which I think many teenagers (and people in their 20’s) can relate to. I find the main character, 17-year-old Holden Caulfield, fascinating, with his out-there nebulous thoughts, and the more I read, the deeper into his strange mind I become.

The book begins with Holden addressing you, the reader, in his usual brash manner and he begins to tell you about his three-day ordeal from last Christmas. His story begins at Pencey Prep, a well-known and prestigious (or at least that’s what the adverts suggest) boarding school which is full of ‘phonies’ which Holden likes to call them, and it’s also the fourth school he’s been kicked out of.

One thing that strikes me about Holden is his passionate dislike for the carbon-copy lifestyle of his parents, the guys at his school and the people at the country club. He dislikes the accepted forms of entertainment, education, and even love. His propensity to rebel can be quite frustrating at times, as it’s clear even to you as the reader that he is intelligent. However, it becomes clear near the end of the book that a lot of his behaviour derives from the fear of failure, and the unknown.

Almost all of the story is one long flashback to this three-day period, where we meet other characters, some seem trivial and others major, but they all have an influence on the mind of young Holden. One thing which sets The Catcher in the Rye apart from the other classics, is its heavy use of colloquialisms and profanity, which is really effective in making you relate to the characters and by the time you finish, you will think they are real.

I wouldn’t say that this novel is suitable for young readers. Not just because of the language used, but also the themes discussed, it can get quite dark at times when you remember how young Holden is.

J. D. Salinger’s novel is one, in my opinion, which everyone should read. To many it has been dubbed a story with no end, but I think that’s the point. The Catcher in the Rye teaches us that life can be difficult, it comes and goes with time, and in that time it tests the very fibres which make you who you are, but despite this, it is important to be yourself and do what makes you happy. It teaches us that time is infinite, with many great stories to tell in-between, this is just one of them.

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