The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye follows the story of a young boy by the name of Holden Caulfield coming into his own after being expelled from a private school.

Rating: 8/10 broken records.

Summary:

The Catcher in the Rye is set around the 1950s and is narrated by a young man named Holden Caulfield. Holden is not specific about his location while he’s telling the story, but he makes it clear that he is undergoing treatment in a mental hospital or sanatorium. The events he narrates take place in the few days between the end of the fall school term and Christmas, when Holden is sixteen years old.

The novel opens up with the simple tale of Holden’s burdened relationships with his roommates. After getting in a rumble and earning himself a bloodied nose, he leaves and finds the English professor to bid him a fond farewell. Later, he boards a train and heads to New York. In NY, he gets a pretty swank hotel room and then tries to get lucky. And fails. Not to mention that he can’t score booze, because he’s a minor, which ends up frustrating him terribly. It’s all very innocent: golf, checkers, movies, holding hands, pretty much the typical teenage escapade.

After a run-in with a prostitute who comes to his room and talks about what they could do instead of actually doing it, he narrowly escapes with his head on his shoulders as the pimp comes for the money. The next day Holden leaves his hotel, makes a date with an old friend named Sally Hayes, and reacquaints himself with the girl, reminiscing on old times and lost loves. He considers going to his family’s house, where his sister Phoebe will welcome him with open arms, but decides against it.. 

Next on Holden’s visiting list is Mr. Antolini, an old teacher. This visit ends badly, when Mr. Antolini maybe comes on to him. Holden bolts, and spends a really depressing night in the train station. After this, Holden decides to run away. He tells Phoebe via a note, and she decides she wants to come, too. No way, says Holden. Phoebe gets angry and pulls a “Fine, I’m not talking to you anymore.”

Fortunately, being mad at someone doesn’t mean you won’t go to the zoo with them, which she does. They end up at the carousel, where Holden promises Phoebe that he won’t run away after all. As he watches her go around and around on the carousel, he declares he’s happy. Hey, that’s a first!

Review:

I can definitely agree with people in saying that this is a book that EVERY young adult should read. Even with the large counts of adult themes, the story of the young boy making his way in NYC matches the dream of independence that near all people have had once in their lives. He is a relatable character that makes you really feel for him, and in the end his sister is what pulls him back to safety. I loved it.

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