Saturday, 7 August 2010

Book #54


The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger


The Catcher in the Rye is a timeless tale of a teenager struggling with society and himself. Holden Caulfield is a teenager who hates his own life. He believes that every single person in the world is phony. One day, he decides to leave school. His life changes when he decides to go to New York for three days.


(The above blurb does nothing to really explain the book. I think this is why there is no blurb on the back cover of the actual novel - I Googled the above description. There is no real way of finding out about this book other than actually reading it.)

I am really ashamed to say that this is the first time I've read this book. It has really blown me away and moved high up in my list of favourites after just the initial read. I really believe that it's one that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime, and again I'm really embarrassed that I haven't done so until now.

Holden Caulfield is a wonderful character. He is troubled in many ways, and he's certainly an unreliable narrator due to the way he narrates his exact thought process, which is disjointed yet wonderful. His use of irony and sarcasm in his descriptions of simple things is hilarious, and very endearing.

Holden has everything that a teenager (or, in fact, an adult) can identify with, such as seeing everything as being a bit pointless, and seeing others as being fake (or as he'd say - 'phonies'). He has no wishes to be a popular, or even sociable, person, and it becomes clear very quickly that he is a teller of what is real. He doesn't sugarcoat a thing, picking up very quickly people's exact selfish reasons for behaving in certain ways. He is so wonderful, and real, that he's become one of my favourite literary characters in the space of a heartbeat.

The book raises a lot of questions, but doesn't go on to answer them. I think this is reflective to growing up, and moving on. Holden's life is never romanticised, you see what he is seeing and hope he can learn to see some beauty in things before too long.

Salinger describes the pain of growing up extremely well, making Holden almost resist the maturity process. He wants everything to constantly stay the same, and to be as simple as possible. He adopts this idea that the adult word consists entirely of 'phonies' (i.e. the superficial, the hypocrites, the pretentious, and the shallow) in order to make himself feel better about resisting entry into it.

The symbolism in The Catcher in the Rye was also something that I enjoyed immensely. Holden's hunting hat, in particular, was a favourite. I think because the hat was so odd, so outlandish, it became a symbol of Holden's individuality, and showed him trying his best to be different. But he is also incredibly self-conscious about the hat, and won't wear it if he thinks he'll see someone he knows. I think this is a gorgeous portrayal of how we feel growing up - wanting to be unique, but still fearing that someone will laugh.

I love this book so much. I'd recommend this to absolutely anyone, it could really change the way you see things, even just a little bit. It really is a beautiful masterpiece, it's made me happy, and it's made me so sad. If you get a chance, please read it, it honestly is wonderful.


54 / 66 books. 82% done!

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