Holden is a character troubled by the outside world, things that occur beyond his mind. He doesn’t understand the world, he can’t grasp that he has issues just like everyone else in the world does, and he envisions himself as the superior being in 99% of the situations that arise within the work. Through his experiences of the world (which take place in a period of a few days), the audience is able to capture the insecurities of a young man who isn’t ready to face what the world has to offer.
Frankly, I remember feeling like I was better than anyone else as a pre-teen/early teen. When I was that old, I thought my every thought needed to be documented because, of course, no one had ever had or would ever have the same ingenious ideas that I did. I wrote quotes down everywhere, thinking I had the meaning of life figured out. (I was wrong.)
What do I say about Catcher in the Rye? Well, I suppose I should start with the length of time it took me to work my way through this book: well over a month.
Why did it take you so long to read? you ask. To answer such questions, I have compiled a list of things I liked about Catcher in the Rye and things I did not/hated/made me want to give up. So here we go.
Oh, and spoiler alert to all the text below.
What I liked:
- Prose. It may be written a bit out of left field for many people who tend to stick with easy-reading books that stick to grammar rules and sentence structure, but Salinger avoids that.
- The ending. I appreciated that it contained some sort of resolution, however brief it may have been. Even up to the last handful of pages, I was unsure of where things would go. What was going to happen and was the book going to just end? Was Holden going to just kill himself (there was no other viable direct end option in my mind)? But no. Holden appreciates his relationships with the people he left behind, and grows as a person due to Phoebe’s youth.
What I didn’t:
- Rape. Everywhere. Holden sees no issue in having a woman in the back seat of a car, in a hotel room, or elsewhere and pursuing sex from her, even if she says no. No means no, and although there’s the whole new “rape culture” thing that’s relevant now and not around then, it was still known. No was still no. Rape was still rape.
- Bitch bitch bitch complain. I understand Holden embodies the selfish person in all of us, we all complain and carry on with our lives in ways that may not be ideal to others, but sweet lord baby jesus. I felt at times as though I were reading about a five year old losing his toy at the park.
I think everyone should read Catcher in the Rye at least once, and I’m not talking about half-reading it for a school class. I mean sitting down and wrestling with it, catching each word and allowing yourself to be Holden. Read it to the end, no matter how long it takes, because in the end, it will help you expand your mind as a reader, but also as an individual.