The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

All adolescents will probably recognise some behaviour of Holden Caulfield, because Holden is a typical one. The book is about how he got kicked from his present school and how he decided to leave early. When he got into a fight with his roommate, just before going to bed, he decided to leave early. He took a train to New York and stayed there in a hotel, because he couldn’t go home yet. The rest of the book is about his stay in New York. During and between his appointments and getting drunk he tells about memories, for example about the previous schools he attended or his little brother, who died of leukemia.

For the most readers in the beginning, Holden will seem to be a real bad boy. He got kicked out, for about three times, he got into a fight, he doesn’t really like anyone or anything, everything is phonie, everyone is or phonie or a pervert. But when you keep on reading, which you probably will, you will have to reconsider your opinion, because he will seem to have a whole different character. Well, not whole different, but different. Although the writing style is not the most used type for communication, it will catch you. The writing style is most annoying, like his little sister says when he visits her: “Don’t swear so much.”, because it’s in most of the sentences.

The title of the book is based on a poem which will be named once or twice in the whole book. ‘Coming through the rye’ is a poem which once was heard by Holden, but he hadn’t remembered it right. By this mishearing he often imagines a rye field with playing children. The only ‘adult’ who is around, is he, and it’s his job to catch the children if they are about the fall of the cliff near the rye field. It’s so important, because it’s one of the view things he likes, it’s the one thing he likes to become.

What’s interesting is that this isn’t the first story Salinger wrote about Holden. Earlier he wrote stories about a similar character, but he also wrote a manuscript about Holden  which was published in the New York Times in 1946. The Catcher in the Rye has been written sixty years ago, so there is already a lot been written about it. It also has been placed in the list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923 and it’s one of the 100 best English 20th century. But before this happened, it was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States. But at the end of that period it wasn’t only the most censored book, but also the second most taught book in the United States. With this example, you should be able to see that it’s just a matter of interpretation whether you like it or not.

But of course, we don’t live in the eighties, we have a whole different view of how things have to be. So at the end you won’t be one of those who wanted it to be censored. It’s a book you want to keep reading, although the writing style may not be that nice, it’s a story about a cocky, but lonely boy with a whole different view of how the world is made. This makes it an extraordinary experience to read the book, in the perspective of a boy who thinks all is phonie.


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