Well, I don’t really know what to say.
This book is undoubtedly a good book. It’s unique. I have never read anything like it. It’s disjointed and bitty and belongs in another time. More often than once I found myself searching my brain to try and work out what slang words used might mean today, for example ‘flitty’. It kept me incessantly on my toes, mainly because I was trying to work out where it was going. Sure, I understood clear as day that it was the story of Holden Caulfield’s two days of reasonable rebellious adventure in New York, but what I was never sure of was WHY I was reading about it. I was waiting for the climax, and the drama, that one expects from a novel, and it honestly took me to the last twenty pages or so to realise that I wasn’t going to get this.
The novel is, in it’s simplest form, a memoir. That kind of explains the disjointed thoughts as the anti-hero tries to remember and record every thought and feeling down at once in the book one assumes his psychoanalyst instructed him to write. It’s a journey into the mind of a 17 year old boy, living in the 50’s, in a dark, dark place in his life. The modern day reader, particularly THIS modern day reader (hey!), can’t help but wonder what might be ‘wrong’ with him, so quick to label with insanity of one kind or another. Of course, the themes of alienation and identity run true throughout, depicting the struggles we’re all told all teenagers experience in their angst-ridden teenager years, presenting the counter-argument, that maybe, just maybe, Holden Caulfield is ordinary.
Saying this I can’t help but disagree with the fact. He definitely comes across as so horrendously abnormal in the text. Trying to fit Holden in the society he presents seems just like trying to fit a shark in a puddle - implausible. His view on most things are impossibly immature, sometimes to his discredit, other times it is endearing. The reader gets to see how vulnerable and childlike he his, despite what we can assume is his tough exterior, the words present a different view. Undeniably, one can see how the book’s themes of sexuality and violence led to outcry among readers of the time, however now that seems somewhat tame to things we see on the television. It makes you wonder how ridiculously times have changed. Is it a good thing?
Despite my initial confusion with this book, I have grown to realise the subtle attachment I have formed with the characters, particularly those Holden holds dear; Allie, Phoebe, Spencer, Jane, ect. This is one of many factors that makes a good book, along with impenetrable themes like the one’s clearly discussed in the novel, and a twist, which I would probably say is the lack of direction.
Lastly, I want to say how beautiful I found the idea of Holden becoming the ‘catcher in the rye’, protecting children playing games from falling off the cliff, and so defending their innocence. It shows despite the characters impossible list of flaws, he holds a deep-rooted compassion that follows him round, perhaps showing that there is hope in every person, no matter how flawed others think they are.
No doubt I have interpreted this classic topsy-turvy, but I think everyone should take something different from a book, so here’s my perspective. 4 out of 5 stars from me Mr Salinger!