The Catcher in the Rye

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Bantam Books, 1964 - Fiction - 214 pages
3329 Reviews
Story of Holden Caulfield with his idiosyncrasies, penetrating insight, confusion, sensitivity and negativism. The hero-narrator of "The Catcher in the Rye" is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices -- but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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User Review  - abycats - LibraryThing

Simply could not get thru this book. Stream of consciousness always seems to impress reviewers but this ADD young man wasn't even particularly interesting, at least to me. Read full review

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The Catcher In the Rye is the story of Holden Caulfield and of his misadventures with the phoney adult world. Holden is on the quest to find his lost youth and innocence but to no avail. His adventures with his roommates, his kid sister Phoebe and his history teacher are all described in the novel. Holden learns to accept reality and must join the 'real world of phoneys.
My notes: In the novel Catcher in the Rye Holden Caulfield is an artetypal teenage rebel. In a sense he is a rebel without a cause. His enemy clearly is the adult world and he tries unsuccessfully to conquer their world.
Holden flunks out of the college or school he's in Pencey Prep. The timing of the story is at Christmas vacation. Of course this isn't the first school he's flunked out of, several other schools have classed him as a failure!
His kid sister Phoebe jostles with him. "Why did you do it?" is one of her questions, "I was surrounded by phoneys and mean guys" is Holdens reply to her. Phoebe listens and Holden words "Phoebe was listening, at least when someone listens it's alright" or words to those effect.
Holden brings Phoebe to the fairground where he watches as she goes on the ride. He gives her all of his Christmas money he'd left after flunking college. Holden feels so happy to see her going around and around on the dodgem rides "I was nearly crying for Christsake."
Holden hears this child singing the song "The Catcher In The Rye" and he wishes to be that himself. It reads "If a body catch a body coming through the rye", based on a poem by Robert Burns. The song cheers him up and he wishes to catch all children before they fall over the edge into the adult world and lose their innocence. "That's all I really want to be." are his own words, meaning all he wants to be is The Catcher In The Rye.
Quotes, humour: "H.V.Caulfield": "Holden Vitamin Caulfield"., "The whole lobby was empty. It smelled like fifty million dead cigars. It really did. I wasn't sleepy or anything , but I was feeling sort of lousy. I almost wished I was dead".
"Old Luce. What a guy. He was supposed to be my Student Adviser when I was at Whooton. The only thing he ever did , though, was give these sex talks and all, late at night when there was a bunch of guys in his room."
I'll now describe Holdens interactions with his history teacher whom he visits before leaving the college that Christmas.
"Do you blame me for flunking you boy?" he said.
"No, sir! I certainly don't," I said. I wished to hell he'd stop calling calling me"boy" all the time.
He tried chucking my exam paper on the bed when he was through with it. Only, he missed again, naturally. I had to get up again and pick it up and put it on top of the Atlantic Monthly. It's boring to do that every two minutes. "What would you have done in my place?" he said. "Tell the truth boy."
Well, you could see he really felt pretty lousy about flunking me. So I shot the bull for a while. I told him I was a real moron, and all that stuff. I told him I would've done exactly the same thing if I'd been in his place, and how most people didn't appreciate how tough it is being a teacher. That kind of stuff. The old bull.
Holden writes the novel from a mental hospital where he ends up, unable to fulfill his dream of being a Catcher in the Rye. From the last page of the novel I quote "That's all I'm going to tell about. I could probably tell you what I did after I went home, and how I got sick and all, and of what school I'm supposed to go to next fall, after I get out of here, but I don't feel like it. I really don't. That stuff doesn't interest me right now. A lot of people, especially this one psychoanalyst guy they have here, keeps asking me if I'm going to apply myself when I go back to school next September

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About the author (1964)

J. D. Salinger was born in New York City on January 1, 1919. He attended Manhattan public schools, Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania, and three colleges, but received no degrees. He joined the U. S. Army in 1942 and fought in the D-Day invasion at Normandy as well as the Battle of the Bulge, but suffered a nervous breakdown and checked himself into an Army hospital in Germany in 1945. In December 1945, his short story I'm Crazy was published in Collier's. In 1947, his short story A Perfect Day for Bananafish was published in The New Yorker. Throughout his lifetime, he wrote more than 30 short stories and a handful of novellas, which were published in magazines and later collected in works such as Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. The Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951, was his only novel. His last published story, Hapworth 16, 1924, appeared in 1965. He spent the remainder of his years in seclusion and silence. He died of natural causes on January 27, 2010 at the age of 91.

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