The Catcher in the Rye by Ernest Hemingway

January 5, 2011

The Catcher in the Rye Book Review

For those of us who have ever wanted a vacation from the “phonies” of this world, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is the perfect book. Originally published in 1951 by Little, Brown and Company, the fictional novel is narrated by Holden Caulfield. He is a teenager who has just escaped from his boarding school, Pencey Prep. As he travels home, he undergoes self-discovery in an ever-changing way. Some of the themes, in fact, are self-awareness and the thin line between sanity and insanity. In my opinion, Salinger wrote a phenomenal book for those who can understand the caustic humor.

Holden is a self-admitted atheist, madman, and liar. Throughout the book, he tries to connect with several people, some of whom he is not particularly fond of, and fails. He reflects multiple times on people he has known, such as his siblings, people he had known from Pencey and elsewhere, and especially a girl named Jane Gallagher, who he had once been friends with. He decides he wants to find his sister Phoebe, who he considers among his favorite people. One of the trips he takes himself on is to a museum he had heard she recently visited. He notes that although he has not been to the museum in years, it has stayed the same, seemingly frozen in time. However, he sees that he has changed, and not for the better. Upon his return home, he speaks with his sister, then leaves and continues to drift until he falls ill, which brings him to the rest home where he has been telling his story from the start.

The Catcher in the Rye is more multifaceted than many people give it credit for. Holden’s ramblings on many subjects are not simply random rants, but instead they are the wavering thoughts of a youth trying to keep his head together. Whenever he tries to connect with someone, he loses a piece of sanity in his failure, even if it was not a person of great interest. Among these people are Stradlater, Sally Hayes, and Carl Luce. After each encounter, Holden’s desperation for a personal connection increases, and he falls closer and closer to the point of insanity. When I first started reading the book, I was astonished at what meaning can truly be drawn from the musings of a sixteen-year-old. Many books make teenagers out to be single-minded beings with little to no heart or valid thought. Because of, and not in spite of, the rambling and seemingly unwise and irrational decisions Salinger’s character makes, his book is incredibly memorable and unquestionably a classic. Some points he makes through Holden are that maybe everyone is crazy, and that when one truly looks inside oneself, one may not quite recognize what he or she finds, and will need to introspect very deeply to understand what he or she has run into. Otherwise, people end up drifting through life, holding onto memories for sanity. I agree with this argument, and other authors such as Jodi Picoult and Lois Lowry have used similar themes in their novels. The larger issue at hand comes down to self awareness, and if we really know who we are. In reading Salinger’s novel, I was both delighted and saddened, but always interested in what would happen next, and the ambiguous conclusion to it leaves readers to their own interpretations of what will become of Holden.

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This article has 7 comments.

Ladams said...
on Jan. 15 2011 at 6:16 pm
This review is very insightful and well written!  I'm excited about reading Catcher in the Rye again. I look forward to more reviews from this author. 

SassyGirl said...
on Jan. 14 2011 at 1:39 am

Excellent review! Makes me want to read the book again!!


on Jan. 11 2011 at 6:23 pm
This is a beautiful review! This is one of my favorite books, and this article does an exceptional job of embodying the sentiments portrayed by Salinger in his classic book. Great job!

carefree said...
on Jan. 10 2011 at 5:27 pm
Did a teen really review this book? They have quite an imagination! I thought the comment was very interesting, "when one truly looks inside oneself, one may not quite recognize what he or she finds, and will need to introspect very deeply to understand what he or she has run into." We all can related to this is we were honest.

on Jan. 10 2011 at 2:11 pm
Very well written. Keep up the good work.  You have an excellent future as a book reviewer. Thanks for helping me to appreciate Salinger's work a little more deeply.

swimfan said...
on Jan. 10 2011 at 1:02 pm
This review is EXCELLENT; it's thoroughly captures the spirit and subtle messages of "Catcher in the Rye".

on Jan. 9 2011 at 3:06 pm
happyclappyatheist7051 BRONZE, Cypress, California
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
Hi, I wrote this article...I was very surprised when I saw "Ernest Hemingway" in the title. This may have been a mistake on my part, sorry!

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