The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

Sorry for the extremely lousy quality of the above picture. I like to use pictures of the exact cover of the book that I have read. Yes, I am weird like that.

I’ve gotten myself a reading list – 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels. I found it on Flipboard (Bored Panda) quite some time ago, and have been trying to cross out as many books on the list as possible even with mountains of homework piling up. Anyway, ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is the 6th book on that list.

‘Catcher’ is a first person narrative written by the protagonist, Holden Caulfield. It is about Holden’s life the first few days after he was expelled from (yet another) school. It’s quite difficult to describe J.D Salinger’s writing style. I would say reading ‘Catcher’ was like hiking along a road lined with huge boulders that you would have to climb over in order to proceed. It’s a direct narrative laid with many flashbacks along the way, which makes it rather hard to follow the main ‘plot’.

To be perfectly honest, I found the book rather boring. However, I have sort of a love-hate relationship with it.

One of the reasons I didn’t like ‘Catcher’ was because it was extremely depressing. It’s the first book that I wasn’t able to keep at for an entire hour. I hunted it down in the library 2 months ago but only just finished reading recently. I guess it’s because Holden was suffering from depression over the course of the novel and no one could understand or help him.

Note: This book was first published 59 years ago! Depression and shrinks weren’t so common back then.

I totally understand the depression ‘theme’ but I still didn’t like it though.

Sometimes I read because I want to run away from reality. You know that magical feeling that you get when you are reading a book and then you feel like you are detached from the real world and that you are safe? Nothing can hurt you (other than getting all upset over the plot) because when in the book, no one knows who you are, but you know every character and everything that happens. You are in control. Well, at least that’s how I feel when I read. Reading provides me with a safe haven, an escape. But then ‘Catcher’ took this harbor away from me. It was so raw and real, it was upsetting 😦

BUT! I also kind of liked the fact that it was kept realistic. (Yeah, yeah, I’m one big lump of contradiction) Maybe because I know that I can’t run and hide from reality forever. Someday, we would all have to face the world out there, no matter how depressing it may get. Life isn’t always a bed of roses right?

The other reason I didn’t really like this book is a little personal. Holden’s the judgmental kid that thinks everyone are phonies, but still tries to connect with them just because he feels lonely. However after his feeble attempt, he would find that they didn’t understand him at all and then proceed on to feel even more lonesome. My guess is that he just wants to find a soul mate whom he could share his ideas with, and who could understand his fear of change (becoming an adult) and his desire to protect the innocence of children by being ‘the catcher in the rye’.

The way Holden narrated was slightly very exaggerated, but we can’t know for sure. Maybe it was because everyone he had met were indeed phonies or maybe it was because he had an inferiority complex that he wouldn’t admit to himself. In any case, I feel that the main reason he felt that everyone were phonies was due to the latter. He views everyone who rejects him as morons and jerks so that it would make him feel better about himself even if he gets rejected by them.

I don’t like that Holden reminds me too much of myself. It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing a whiny kid with bad grades, feeling sorry for himself but then does nothing to change it. Major sigh. But, seeing yourself clearly sometimes may not entirely be a bad thing after all. For example, now that I know what kind of a judgmental hypocrite I am (hahaha), I can start to change for the better.

I like Allie (Holden’s brother) and Phoebe (Holden’s sister). The way Holden describes them, it’s impossible not to admire them. I still can’t decide my feelings for this book though, it’s complicated. I like it but I would never read it again (just because it’s boring). Even if I were to re-read it, I think it would be at least 10 years from now.

I shall end this post with a rather famous (I think) quote from the book:

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

I find this very true indeed.


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