Monday, March 30, 2009

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is a classic which most of you may have read in school! I grew up in Jamaica and read lots of West Indian literary works as well as the classic of all classics (Shakespeare). This book reminds me of one of Shakespeare's work!

The Catcher in the Rye is set around the 1950s and is narrated by a young man (16 years old) named Holden Caulfield. It seems Holden is telling his story from a clinic (mental hospital) where he is being treated for a nervous breakdown. He talks about the events that take place in the days between the end of school and Christmas which invariably leads to his breakdown.

For most of the story, Holden seems like a lonely boy who is failing all but 1 class (English). Holden is from a fairly wealthy family (lawyer dad) with a brother who is a writer, a 10 year old sister who he loves and a brother (Allie) who died of Leukemia a few years prior to the story. He speaks fondly of Allie as being fun loving and my guess is that Holden is in mourning for the brother whom he looses and for his mom who he mentioned has not gotten over the death of his brother.

Holden is enrolled at Pencey State and rambles on about his room mate whom he refers to as a "sexy bastard" and got upset when the roommate (Stradlater) dates a girl he has gone out with and still has feelings for. He also complains about a dorm neighbor Ackley whom he refers to a unhygienic. He gets into a fight with Stradlater then sets off to New York a few days earlier than the end of the school term.

The rest of the novel is about Holden's time spent in New York, his yearning for past acquaintances whom he thinks about calling or actually rings them at night to spend time with him (loneliness). We see the characters frustration after they meet with Holden as he rants and raves about sex, the ducks in central park or hitchhiking his way west to work on a farm.

Holden finally goes home in the middle of the night to see his beloved sister Phoebe who figures out he got kicked out of school and gets mad that this is the fourth school he has been in. I think Phoebe's roll is to give Holden a sense of self and a connection to family.

I could say this book is the "ramblings" of a teen but then I wouldn't give it the respect it deserves. Instead I will say the book covers many topics such as lonliness, confusion, anxiety and love.


  1. Just want to let you know that I gave you two awards. The Zombie Chicken Award and the Premio-Dardos Award. Come on over and check them out.

  2. Oh, I do feel special to receive these awards. Thank you so much. Well I didn't write s speech or anything but I would like to thank my readers, all the members of my yahoo groups... :)