Holden and Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is written by J.D. Salinger in 1951 during the second world war. The story is about a boy, Holden Caulfield, who has a hard time growing up. He bumps out of his school, Pencey Prep, and starts wandering around in New York. He doesn’t want to be alone, so he calls up some people he know to hang around, but all the meetings turn into disappointments. To him almost everyone he meets are phonies. Nothing he does can really excite him.

What’s really clear is that he misses his brother Allie a lot. He died a few years ago and Holden tells a lot about him in the book. He remembers a baseball glove he had, where Allie wrote poems on, so he had something to do during the game.

Maybe the book is kind of biographical. Holden lost Allie, Salinger lost friends in the war and they both clearly don’t like people around.

After all Salinger did a marvelous job expressing an adolescent’s feelings. The way he talks in the book is also written like he’s talking to you.

Who Holden likes most is Phoebe, his little sister. When she’s on the carousel in the last chapter, Holden is finally happy. He had a dream of children playing in the rye close to a cliff. He caught them before they ran in the cliff. This gave him a great feeling. The two things that make Holden happy are about children, his little sister and the children who play in the rye. Both Salinger and Holden think grown-ups are stupid and phony. A famous quotation by Salinger is: “It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.”

What’s so extraordinary about Salinger is that he let’s people guess what the meaning of the book is. He never gave his own interpretation. He says it’s al in the book. The book got a lot of negative attention because of the cursing and the sexual things in the book. But almost in all books, which are written now, you can read a lot of curse words. So you can say he is a very innovative writer. Some writers even call the 1950’s the Salinger era.

Salinger didn’t want to expose himself in public, because he rarely gave away any interviews and he moved away when he got too much attention. My conclusion is that Holden is a reflection of J.D. Salinger. They both have trouble growing up and both actually don’t like people. It’s clearly to see in Holden’s character, because he says everyone is a phony. It’s a bit harder to see it in Salinger, but he went living on a hill (away from all the people) and if you read his quotations, you’ll see he’s very negative about people.

Although the book wasn’t received very well when it just came out, it’s nowadays one of the most discussed books and Salinger has been an example for a lot of famous writers. No wonder, to my opinion, because as a modern, young reader I was pulled into the story by Salinger’s fascinating way of discribing adolescent’s feelings.


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