January 8, 2012
The Catcher in the
Rye by J.D Slinger
Book Review by Lindsey
I'm sure everyone has
walked into, or crossed one of these books before in their lifetime.
Your not really sure what it was about, or you were just curious.
Heck, books without a plot summary on the back certainly leave us
either intrigued or lukewarm. Despite this book being meant for
adults, this is the holy
grail of literature for adolescence. The Catcher in the Rye really
takes a step back and truly shows what it's like being a teenager
desperate for acceptance and discovering who one's self is. On a
majority, this book is considered one of the best English written
novels of all time.
The novel sells about 250,000 each year with sales of more than
65,000,000 books. But that is not what makes it a great book to read.
What makes a novel the best of the best, is if you like
it. And with this book in particular, you will either love it to
death, or hate it's guts.
Caulfield's adventure begins at Pencey Prep, an illustrious,
gold-tinted private school located in Agerstown, Pennsylvania.
Christmas is just around the corner and all students are ready to see
their families over the vacation. However, Holden's residency is only
temporary. The boy had recently been expelled and given until after
the break to pack up and skedaddle.
departing, Holden visits his old history teacher, Mr. Spencer. Not to
kiss up to him or anything like that, but to tell him goodbye. Mr.
Spencer is a wise-man, but also knows how to do his job. He gives
Holden a good scolding about how poor his performance is
academically. Holden, in sheer annoyance, reads him a note that he
wrote him on the back of his history exam, telling him that it was
not his professor's fault for failing him, but his own.
returns to his dorm room. Quiet. Just like he prefers. The rest of
the students are at the winter football game and aren't expected to
be back for a while. Taking advantage of the wide amount of time he
has, Holden starts a new book. Just when he first gets the “feel”
of the book, the obnoxious neighbor, Ackley joins. Ackley's profile
consists of a family of pimples across his face (of which he usually
picks at) and constantly clipping his toenails, much to Holden's
annoyance. Ackley barges into Holden's room, picks up things that
don't belong to him, and puts them back in the completely wrong
place. Ackley treats Holden as if he is in inferior to him because he
is merely two years older. The wreck (Ackely) begins to talk about
how if Stradlater was around, he'd leave promptly. Much to his demise
, Stradlater returns and begs Holden to write his English paper for
him. With vague instructions on the criteria for the paper, Holden
writes about his brother's baseball mitt, his brother who's life
ended early. Stradlater then returns, he is in disgust about the
paper Holden had written . Holden is fed up. He doesn't like how
ignorant and jughead-like Stradlater is. And what really got him
angry is Stradlater not even being able to say his dates name right.
Jean Gallagher. A long time friend of Holden's and someone who he is
particularly fond of. The two duke it out, Stradlater getting the
upper hand. Holden getting a bloody nose. This event officially helps
Holden decide that he is done with
Pencey and he escapes in the middle of the night and sets for a train
to Manhattan three days shy of the winter break.
meets the mother of one of the students at Pencey on the train.
Holden knows the student in mind, another of which he dislikes. She's
considered the type of mother that believes her children are complete
saints. Holden coaxes her into her beliefs, inferring that her son is
in fact the best of the best. He
arrives at Penn Station and first thinks of a few people he could
call, but he ends up not calling anyone. He signals a taxi cab and
begins a conversation at random about where the animals at Central
Park go in the winter when the water freezes. The driver says that
the fish freeze with the water and the ducks go elsewhere, where it
is warmer. The conversation carries on, Holden asking the question
again and again, as if he is confused.
ride ends at the Edmont Hotel. A place overran by perverts and drug
dealers. After checking into his room, Holden heads for the bar in
the hotel. Lying about his age serves him no good. The bartender
refuses to give him alcohol despite his claims of being in his
twenties. So Holden takes a coke and reverts his attention to the
three ladies across the room, obvious tourists. He pays most of his
attention to the blonde one, the most attractive. The other two
females came up too short face wise. Holden is able to talk to them,
but neither of them can hold a descent conversation. He invites the
blonde to dance for a while, which works, but she still not paying
attention. The night ends with Holden getting his feelings hurt and
the only one with the check.
becomes angry and embarrassed and is offered a prostitute. He
accepts. He thinks that it'd be easier to hurry and lose his
virginity, since he becomes pretty uncomfortable when a girl says
“no”. He pays Maurice, the pimp, five dollars for the first
hour. The prostitute later comes, and as soon she walks through the
door, Holden realizes she is nothing but a kid. He sees her as his
equal, and decides to just have a conversation. The girl is clearly
uninterested and wants to hurry up and get the deed over with, but
Holden asks what she does when she's not selling herself. She says
she goes to the movies and just watches shows, which is incredibly
boring to Holden. The time is up, and the girl wants her money.
Holden is confused because he had just paid her pimp just before she
came in. The girl leaves, and later returns with Maurice. Maurice
roughens up Holden, and the girl takes the five dollars from his
wallet. The terrible two then leave.
walks up the next morning and telephones a girlfriend of his, Sally
Hayes. Sally and Holden see a play together. It apparently is one
those typical tragic love stories about a guy going to war and
leaving his wife behind. He then later returns with no recollection
of being married to this woman, and they go through all these trials
and tribulations just to end up together in the end. Holden doesn't
like the story of course, it was too predictable. They later go to a
roller skating rink, in which Holden bombards Sally with the impulse
for her to run away with him. Sally scolds him with how ridiculous he
sounds, and the lack of money, and the fact that he has no plans or
idea what it is like to just “runaway together”. The argument
dies down, Holden calling her a “pain in the ass”, leaving Sally
fuming. She leaves him, but Holden pleads out to her. He is still
ignored. With nothing better else to do, Holden decides to pay his
little sister Phoebe a visit.
heads to a park, a specific that Phoebe usually roller skates at. He
finds a young girl that looks as if she'd be one of his sisters
friends. She tells him that Phoebe is probably at the Museum of
Natural History. Holden goes but then realizes that the museum isn't
open on Sundays. The boy then diverts a plan and is able to sneak
into his parent's apartment, in order to see Phoebe, sound asleep.
She wakes up and Holden tells her about a dream he has to be “the
catcher in the rye”. A being whom he believes is to save children
from straying from their innocence. The Caulfield's return home and
Holden sneaks out of the window. He meets his old English teacher,
Mr. Antolini. Antolini provides him with a piece of advice and some
shelter for awhile. Antolini drowns Holden with information that
makes him question what exactly “the catcher in the rye” is. He
serves him alcohol, and they sleep. Holden wakes up to Antolini
rubbing his head in a way that he describes “flitty” or in more
modern terms, homosexual. He gets so uncomfortable that he leaves for
all of his confusion, Holden decides to become a deaf mute in west.
It's much easier than learning to understand others when they can't
understand you. Before leaving, Holden takes his sister to the
Central Park Zoo and watches her on the merry-go-round, at this
moment, he felt generally happy. He leaves her theres. Holden doesn't
exactly make it to his dream life of being a deaf mute in the west.
He reduces himself to something much different. He “got sick” and
doesn't feel comfortable telling of his current life at a mental
hospital. But what does tell us is that he misses Stradlater and
Ackely and ultimately regrets telling us about his life and
spends the rest of his time in New York battling with isolation, drug
use, and coming to the understanding of his sexuality. His avoidance
of his family allows him to truly understand who he is exactly and be
able to make his own decisions. Holden on an all time level, battles
himself internally. The people he encounters just revolve around him.
He wants acceptance and praise from others, and for others to like
him. Which sounds pretty selfish, but doesn't everyone? It is similar
to his relationship with his parents. They aren't very engaged or
involved with Holden, and this neglect could possibly be a part of
why he thinks this way exactly. Without this love and compassion from
others, Holden's character doesn't grow throughout the story. Instead
he comes to a conclusion and adapts to the situations he is in, in
order to fit his liking.
reading this book, I hope you as a reader can take away that nobody
is perfect. And that maybe you could possibly see yourself in Holden
Caulfield's shoes. His mind got the best of him, and he let his
selfish priorities get in the way of “what could have been”, but
that makes him no lesser than human. At one point in our lifetime,
everyone has wanted to do something drastic, to get away from
everything, to learn who you really are.
Holden is just one of the few who actually pursued it.
a teenager myself, relating to some of the characters is simple.
Holden Caulfield possesses the traits of most teenagers and is easily
similar to most. Holden suffers from the usual phase of rebellion.
But is it just a “phase”? In most stories, the main character
usually develops into a better person and grows along with the plot.
Holden doesn't show much character growth at all. He's stubborn. What
I like about him is that he sets his eyes on what he believes in and
doesn't give them up for anyone or anything, even if his decisions
might jeopardize him and others. Despite his screw ups and arrogant
attitude, Holden is generally a nice person and seems to care about
others. One of the things we have in common is setting our goals and
letting nothing get in our way of reaching them. Even though his are
a bit more drastic, he really speaks up for those who don't dare or
I generally do really like this book. Such books that expose
youths for who really are, are usually terribly written are
impossible to understand. As a reader, you will literally feel as
though you are on this long journey with Holden, that only lasted a
few days, you might even discover yourself with him. But I do have
some small tweaks that I personally think would make the book more
appealing for my tastes. One of the main weaknesses of this book is
that at some parts, the book can be a bit “dry” and confusing.
They're were very few moments like this though. Small incidents in
which I had no idea what was going on, or how one situation connected
to the next. But you've got to keep in mind that this book is being
narrated by Caulfield himself. So I'd forgive the way in which he
interprets things. One of the strengths of this book is the
simpleness. The author was able to keep me as a reader engaged,
without overrunning me with a ridiculous amount of detail or
unnecessary information that didn't add to the plot at all. He used
simple events, such as Holden in the cab asking about the animals
freezing in the winter. I was ears-up to this question and eager to
read the answer because it's something I've always wondered myself.
I could possibly change one thing, it'd be minor. I think this book
could have been better if there were a bit more of recurring
characters. That I possibly think could have kept Holden's attention,
or he made some type of internal bond with, besides Phoebe. But
thats only one thing, besides that, this book doesn't really need to
change at all!
mostly recommend this book to adolescence and young adults, but it
could possibly be a good read to those much older (the original text
was made for adults). Those who want a book that is not hard on the
eyes, or the mind. That depicts a main character who's flaws overflow
the pages, and is far from cliché. This is not a story you'll read