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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye is quite a story you told… I mean nothing compares to a lonely night in the big city; worst feeling ever. I kept trying to imagine you, imagine how you might look like, but you said nothing of that sort. All you talked about is how you felt, how things made you feel, which is one of the reasons I really liked your story. You see, I usually love descriptive stories, ones that tell me what to feel, what to see, what to expect. But in your story, I had to get it out of you. I had to search and analyze what you were saying to understand what you were going through, to see what you were seeing, to feel what you were feeling. For example, I loved the way you’d repeat things twice, as if to imply that if I didn’t hear you the first time, you’d make the effort in repeating what you said to make sure I hear you the second time; that’s how badly you want to be heard.
This novel was a challenge to read, for I spent endless nights reading between your lines, and at first, it gave me a headache, but once I got the hang of it, I was amused by all the metaphors and meanings there are in your words, all of them so true, so pure.
A main character trait that I noticed about you in the story is how you frequently do small little insignificant things that just hints to us what you are trying to tell us about yourself. I found an example of this as soon as you heard Stradlater get back from his date with Jane, you claim not to remember what you were doing, but you began worrying and said, “When I really worry about something, I don't just fool around. I even have to go to the bathroom when I worry about something. Only, I don't go. I'm too worried to go. I don't want to interrupt my worrying to go.” (Salinger 40) In this passage, you are telling us you’re worried, then you remember that you usually go to the bathroom when you worry, but you don’t want to go to the bathroom right now, but you usually do… and that’s what gets you so panicked and alerted about everything. If you ended up going to the bathroom, you would have satisfied yourself, but you didn’t want to go in the first place! If you didn’t, there would be that voice in your head tempting you to go! You see, your problem is that you don’t realize that the only person who’s stopping you is you. You’re never sure of the decisions you make, your always hesitating, then you find an excuse to stop yourself. You stop yourself from doing things, with the fear that you might end up phony. However, the only person who thinks that those small things you do are phony, or that people, or that the world is phony, is you. Your metaphorically insecure actions such as this one relate the reader to how insecure you feel in the independent world.
Something major I liked about your story is the way your author wrote it. Since he was describing you in first person, he wrote in the way you would speak. He didn’t let correct grammar get in the way of relating us readers to the way you actually chose your language: He used slang language, he used repetitive sentences, etc…, which made your story seem real in our mind.
A part in which I really felt fond of the authors writing style is when you were with Mr. Antolini. He was giving you all these life lessons and telling you things about yourself that he thought you didn’t know. But you just couldn’t absorb it! All you wanted to do was sleep. Yes, you knew that you had to get your life figured out. Yes, you knew you’d never get anywhere if you don’t graduate school. Yes, you knew you’d never change the world and frankly, you didn’t care, at least not then. I could feel the way your eyes twitched and your breath slowed as you tried your hardest to care about what he was saying. It was just all so real! Even I started get tired of his lecturing and began skipping through the paragraphs! I give a huge thank you to the author for writing in a tone so relatable.
However, some of this common language confused me a bit. I mean, when something miraculous happens, such as your childhood playmate happens to be on a date with your roommate, you don’t go say hello, even though you really want to, because you’re not in the mood to. This is what I mean by your always stopping yourself. What do you mean when you say that you are not in the mood to? Do you not want to see her? Does the last time you saw her hold history you hope to avoid? Tell us! Explain to us! Dig deeper and answer the big question about everything: Why? Alternatively, in your pessimistic point of view: Why not? I personally find laziness in the authors lack of interest to such events.
Another change I would do if I were the author of this book is that I would have added a few more characters. I wish that somewhere in this mess, there were somebody really wise, or clever, or smart, or always had the right thing to say. Somebody stubborn with a razor sharp tongue… A Virgo, perhaps… I would have added a character that wasn’t a phony at all, one that you unconsciously would have looked up to, wanted to be like, but just labeled him a phony because you think he knows too much about life and crap. I would add this character in favor to showing the reader how phony you happen to be yourself… how you put labels on people because of the smallest things they do. No offense. This person would have answered your questions, whether you agreed with them or not, and they would have cleared life out for you, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do… Telling you to play by the rules of life’s game.
Is life a game? You tell me. Life is a game. But it is not fair. But there are punishments if you don’t play by the rules, if you play unfair. But you can cheat and creep out of these punishments by breaking the rules a second time. And then it gets unfair again. And then you end up with so many damn rules that have been broken by so many people so many times that you don’t even know if it should be considered a game anymore! If it were, everyone would have to be disqualified.
I find that The Catcher in the Rye should be taught in schools, especially for kids my age, for we are in the stage where in a couple of years, we are to do your mistakes. Given this book, we could learn from them instead. This book has taught me to look at things in a more mature perspective, to have an opinion about everything. I’m not sure that is necessarily a good thing for us health wise, but it teaches a valuable lesson to the society we are in. If this book were passed down generations, eventually someone would do something about it to show the society what’s right and what’s not.
And that would all be thanks to you, Holden. Who knows? One day, you may be the reason the world changes.
Reader of The Catcher in the Rye