am 21. Juli 2000
In J.D. Salinger's brilliant coming-of-age novel, Holden Caulfield, a seventeen year old prep school adolescent relates his lonely, life-changing twenty-four hour stay in New York City as he experiences the phoniness of the adult world while attempting to deal with the death of his younger brother, an overwhelming compulsion to lie and troubling sexual experiences.
Salinger, whose characters are among the best and most developed in all of literature has captured the eternal angst of growing into adulthood in the person of Holden Caulfield. Anyone who has reached the age of sixteen will be able to identify with this unique and yet universal character, for Holden contains bits and pieces of all of us. It is for this very reason that The Catcher in the Rye has become one of the most beloved and enduring works in world literature.
As always, Salinger's writing is so brilliant, his characters so real, that he need not employ artifice of any kind. This is a study of the complex problems haunting all adolescents as they mature into adulthood and Salinger wisely chooses to keep his narrative and prose straightforward and simple.
This is not to say that The Catcher in the Rye is a straightforward and simple book. It is anything but. In it we are privy to Salinger's genius and originality in portraying universal problems in a unique manner. The Catcher in the Rye is a book that can be loved and understood on many different levels of comprehension and each reader who experiences it will come away with a fresh view of the world in which they live.
A work of true genius, images of a catcher in the rye are abundantly apparent throughout this book.
While analyzing the city raging about him, Holden's attention is captured by a child walking in the street "singing and humming." Realizing that the child is singing the familiar refrain, "If a body meet a body, comin' through the rye," Holden, himself, says that he feels "not so depressed."
The title's words, however, are more than just a pretty ditty that Holden happens to like. In the stroke of pure genius that is Salinger, himself, he wisely sums up the book's theme in its title.
When Holden, whose past has been traumatic, to say the least, is questioned by his younger sister, Phoebe, regarding what he would like to do when he gets older, Holden replies, "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around--nobody big, I mean--except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff--I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going. I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."
In this short bit of dialogue Salinger brilliantly exposes Holden's deepest desire and expounds the book's theme. Holden wishes to preserve something of childhood innocence that gets hopelessly lost as we grow into the crazy and phony world of adulthood.
The theme of lost innocence is deftly explored by Salinger throughout the book. Holden is appalled when he encounters profanity scrawled on the walls of Phoebe's school, a school that he envisions protecting and shielding children from the evils of society.
When Holden gives his red hunting cap to Phoebe to wear, he gives it to her as a shield, an emblem of the eternal love and protectiveness he feels for her.
Near the beginning of the book, Holden remembers a girl he once knew, Jane Gallagher, with whom he played checkers. Jane, he remembers, "wouldn't move any of her kings," and action Holden realizes to be a metaphor of her naivete. When Holden hears that his sexually experienced prep school roommate had a date with Jane, he immediately starts a fight with him, symbolically protecting Jane's innocence.
More sophisticated readers might question the reasons behind Holden's plight. While Holden's feelings are universal, this character does seem to be a rather extreme example. The catalyst for Holden's desires is no doubt the death of his younger brother, Allie, a bright and loving boy who died of leukemia at the age of thirteen. Holden still feels the sting of Allie's death acutely, as well as his own, albeit undeserved, guilt, in being able to do nothing to prevent Allie's suffering.
The only reminder Holden has of Allie's shining but all-too-short life, is Allie's baseball mitt which is covered with poems Allie read while standing in the outfield. In a particularly poignant moment, Holden tells us that this is the glove he would want to use to catch children when they fall from the cliff of innocence.
In an interesting, but trademark, Salinger twist, Holden distorts the Robert Burns poem that provides the book's title. Originally, it read, "If a body meet a body, comin' through the rye." Holden distorts the word "meet" into "catch." This is certainly not the first time Holden is guilty of distortion; indeed he is a master at it.
This distortion, however, shows us how much Allie's death has affected Holden and also how much he fears his own fall from innocence, the theme that threads its way throughout the whole of the book.
By this amazing book's end, we must reach the conclusion that there are times when we all need a "catcher in the rye." We are, indeed, blessed if we have one.
am 25. Mai 2000
Holden Caulfield is the most loving, caring, beautiful person I have ever come across. He criticizes the bad, hypocritic, inhuman ("phony") aspects of human nature, but is constantly falling in love with the truth and beauty that people exhibit. He's in so much pain and is so depressed, and yet he still has an overwhelming desire to save others. He is a saint. I think that anyone who has read this book and did not like it (like me, the first time I read it) must either be too immature to understand it or must be looking in all the wrong places for something that doesn't exist in Catcher in the Rye. To anyone reading it for the first time, forget everything you've ever heard about it. Just sit back, read, and analyze for yourself everything that Holden says and feels. I've found that people who are like the "phonies" that Holden criticizes are too caught up in hating Holden for his depression and confusion that they don't listen to the real messages in the novel. It is important to see Holden's profound love for humanity, as well as his pain, underneath his professed hatred. Anyway, do what you want. But I'll say that, if you're not interested in what it means to be human, you might want to consider reading something else.
Als Marc Chapman 1981 John Lennon erschoss, hatte er zwei Dinge bei sich: einen Revolver und eine Ausgabe von J.D. Salingers "The Catcher in the Rye". So sehr habe er sich mit Holden Caulfield, dem Protagonisten und Erzähler des Romans, identifizieren können, so Chapman. Seitdem wurde oftmals der Roman für den Tod Lennons verantwortlich gemacht. Das ist natürlich völliger Blödsinn. "The Catcher in the Rye" ist einer der wenigen ganz großen Romane des 20. Jahrhunderts.
Der 16-jährige Holden Caulfield ist mal wieder von einem Internat geflogen. Der hoch intelligente, aber melancholische und ziellose, Teenager steht seiner Zukunft mit völliger Gleichgültigkeit gegenüber und fällt in allen Fächern, bis auf Englisch, in der Schule durch. In vier Tagen werden seine Eltern die Entscheidung per Brief mitgeteilt bekommen. Diese Zeit nutzt Holden zu einem Ausflug nach New York, so dass er genug Zeit hat über sein Leben zu grübeln und der Leser so einiges an Tragischem aus seinem Leben erfährt.
Im Verlauf des Romans schleicht er sich in die elterliche Wohnung, um seine geliebte jüngere Schwester Phoebe zu treffen. Diese fordert ihn auf, sich endlich darüber klar zu werden, was er in seinem Leben erreichen will. Holdens Antwort ist legendär und fasziniert seit Jahrzehnten Leser übe all auf der Welt:
"I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some ivory cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy" (chapter 22).
Fazit: Beeindruckender Blick in die Seele eines Teenagers. Ein Buch über das, was im Leben wirklich zählt. Schade, dass Mr. Chapman das nicht erkannt hat.
am 26. September 1999
While reading all of these reviews, I began to wonder if anyone who reviewed this book had actually read it. The people who gave the book one star I can understand: they haven't "gotten it" yet and will probably need to reread it five to ten fifteen years down the road. Those who criticized the swearing, to you I say get a life. Criticizing The Catcher in the Rye for its use of profanity is like saying the Godfather should not be shown because of the violence: the profanity used is part of Holden's diction; it reveals more about him as a character than merely what he thinks about something. If you have a problem reading books with profanity, then many 20th century classics must bother you. For those out there who gave TCITR five stars but went off on its perfect portrayal of teenage angst, I question whether the book itself or the reputation preceding the book influenced your review. I am a 16 year old female who just finished the book for an advanced english 11 class. I do not consider myself cynical, have never drank, smoked, run away, or considered hiring a prostitute, yet I find this book THE most influential book I have ever read. Holden's perception of the world as a bunch of phonies is more dead-on than most people would care to believe. I don't see angst the driving force as much as growing up (or lack thereof). Whether you can relate to this book or not, it is an important read if only to see the world perspective from someone other than yourself. Although I am not an adult yet, it's been my observation that as adults get older, they dislodge more and more from the person they were as a teenager; a reasonable and natural progression. However, when these same adults have children, they are so out of touch with being a teenager that they cannot relate, and therefore write off teenagers as troublemakers. Teenagers haven't changed as much as adults have. While this diatribe will undoubtably offend many people, and I will probably be written off as a teenager who does not understand the world as a whole, I would like to say that I stand by my opinions and wrote this review because I saw a void in the other reviews. Instead of attacking me, I suggest you reread the book or at least think about your motives for disliking it. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
am 16. August 1999
I have not read all the reviews listed here, and so my comments may be redundant, but I feel that most of the customer reviewers have missed the mark. This book is a brilliant study (probably quasi-autobiographical from what I know of J.D. Salinger's life) of a teenage boy who suffers from severe depression, and barely hangs on through his odyssey from the time he leaves school until he is rescued by his younger sister. There are clear parallels between this book and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, except that she found nothing to anchor her to life. As he travels along, Holden tempts fate on a number of occasions, any one of which could have resulted in his death or serious injury- a vulnerable teenage boy staying in a flophouse of a hotel, engaging a prostitute and taking on her pimp, walking through Central Park after dark, and generally roaming around a usually unforgiving city. His salvation is his sister, who is the only one who can cut through his cynicism, and self-destructiveness. She is truly the "catcher in the rye," standing at the edge of the cliff, guardian and protector, keeping all the children from falling off the edge. In this case, she keeps her brother from the abyss, as he finally agrees to go home, and to not follow his fantasy to go out west, which I think is a metaphor for the great unknown, and probably his own ultimate destruction. Why he honors her so is not entirely clear, but it could be because she is truly pre-egoic; innocent, caring, displaying unconditional love and concern for Holden, and no facade that he can disparage with his cynicism and wit. The "epilogue" final chapter shows Holden acknowledging that he is in some institution, probably as a psychiatric inpatient, who is letting a psychotherapist into his world. He seems to have lost his severe cynical edge, and one gets the hint that he is going to make it, to recover from an illness which almost destroyed him. The novel leaves us on a hopeful note, although, interestingly enough, I dont get the impression that the author ever similarly extricated himself from the reclusive life which he has lived. All in all, I think that we bear witness to a brilliantly-crafted case study of adolescent depression, with all of the contrasting anguish and humorous cynicism expected in such a pathetic figure. The irony here, of course, is that the world and its inhabitants are indeed phony, and to cure Holden is to allow him to become everything he so incisively rails against. Do we do him- and any other beings who see the world for what it really is- a true service by trying to change them??
"Now concerning virgins: I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy." -- 1 Corinthians 7:25 (NKJV)
My last reading of The Catcher in the Rye came about 50 years ago. I loved it then for its validation of so many feelings I had about how fake most people were. My friends and I had wonderful discussions about specific chapters that helped draw us closer together.
I didn't feel any need to reread the book until Kenneth Slawenski's new biography of Salinger caused me to wonder what my reaction to the book would be as a new grandfather, rather than as a young teen.
Sometimes rereading a book enjoyed in youth is simply a trip down memory lane. In this case, I found that my memory of the book was quite fresh. Knowing what was coming next caused me to appreciate more of the storytelling skill that connected all the episodes and chapters together. Being older and having read a lot more, I could also appreciate a lot more of the literary references that went over my head before.
Having become a nonfiction author who loves to use stories to convey "truth," the writing craft was much more apparent this time. In particularly, I had failed to appreciate that each chapter is really a short story . . . but that each story proceeds in a sequence that builds into a novel.
On the first reading, I picked up that something was wrong in Holden Caulfield's life. On this reading, that hidden pain screamed out at me.
I also now see parallels to Don Quixote that I missed before because I hadn't yet read that seminal novel.
So what's the story about? In the space of a few hours and two cities, Holden Caulfield stands astride the worlds of childhood innocence and adult cynicism. His desire to do the right thing and to protect the innocence allows him to stretch across that "impossible" chasm. The lessons are much more universal than what a "coming of age" novel usually portrays. The lessons here are more like those in Huckleberry Finn than they are in novels about teens dealing with their angst.
The theme is actually broader than that. As much as Holden is repelled by people, he is also drawn to them. He's making a spiritual pilgrimage from youthful, critical judgment of all into loving all those in God's creation.
Ultimately, it's a beautiful story that will bring out your finest sensibilities. When was the last time that a novel did that for you?
am 1. Juli 1998
This is just such a boring book. who cares about this guy who hates society or whatever. boring. like i need a book to tell me what's wrong with society. maybe this book is good for disillusioned teens who can't think for themselves.
and most of all, i hate the fact that people say things like, "This book should be read by everyone!" i'm a teenager, but i think it stinks. when i'm 40 years old, i'll still think that it stinks.
RAGE AGAINST THE LITERARY MACHINE!!!
am 5. Juli 2010
I read this book during a recent tour around Germany. And I remember sitting in railway platforms and inside trains and laughing out loud, at the expense of being mistaken for a mentally disturbed person. But I couldn't help it. The Catcher in the Rye is a refreshingly hilarious, albeit somewhat upsetting, account of 16- year old Holden Caulfield's confrontation of life. It provides an amusing insight into the mind of the teenager, and his brand of wisdom.
This book is about Holden's struggle to make sense of the world, to find his place and purpose in life. After being repeatedly kicked out of schools, the boy is lost, unable to fit in this world, and thoroughly disillusioned with the people around him. Consequently, he is depressed. He is a smart, principled and righteous boy, who never hesitates to admit his own shortcomings (doesn't 'bull' with himself, as he would say), but who cannot seem to learn how to be happy. He chronicles his experiences and thoughts as he suffers through and eventually recovers from his misery. A crucial part of the second half of the book is Holden's relationship with his kid sister. Their interaction is adorable and heart- warming.
The narrative is humorous, simple, original and at times sarcastic. And the choice of euphemism is endearing. The teenager, for instance, hates pretentious, dishonest people, and chooses to call them 'phonies'. Plus, I guarantee you, everytime Holden says 'It killed me', you will inadvertently start smiling. Some of the quotes in this book are priceless, and they are sure to set you thinking. Take this one for instance- 'You take somebody that cries their goddamn eyes out over phony stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they are mean bastards at heart. I'm not kidding.' You do tend to feel at times that Holden's character might be a tad bit too self- righteous for his age, maybe even bordering on arrogance. But the book is so engaging and the narrative so comic, that you would probably overlook these aspects.
In this day and age, this book (originally published in 1951) is an honest and straightforward take on the fictitiousness of society and people's tendency to be fake. It's almost a social satire, and a terribly interesting one at that. This is the first J.D. Salinger book I have read, and I am definitely going for more.
am 3. Februar 2000
The Catcher in the Rye By Lynn C (A/B)
Showing a lonesomelife of a teen boy, the age of sixteen, by the name of HoldenCaulfield, the author J.D. Salinger writes a novel of Holden¡¯s life in the book called The Catcher in the Rye. The novel is fiction with a form of the first person view. The style of this book is very descriptive in fact. The basic outline of the story is about the freedom the main character, Holden Caulfield, wants, and how he wants to be someone who has meaning. Holden has basically been expelled from many schools. And yet, he is staying at Pencey (school). Well, Holden tries to stay tight in Pencey, but it seems like he cannot stand his life in the dormitory. Eventually, he sneaks out of Pencey after having a fist fight with his roommate, a few days before the vacation, and hangs around on the streets of New York, while visiting his loving sister Pheobe and friends from time to time. And basically everything else in between the main parts, are just very deep descriptions of his memories. Through the story, you will find many problems with Holden and his friends having fist fights, and problems within the society and Holden, where Holden hangs out in night clubs looking for girls to hang around with, and places such as the hotel room he stays in. There are a tremendous number of conflicts in the book, which makes it interesting to read. If you look at the book and think back of the story, you do not really feel that it has any point to it. You would start to wonder why Holden ever even went to a dormitory if he didn¡¯t like it. I mean, all the book talks about is Holden¡¯s pathetic life, and what he goes through at every place. I am sure the book was a story, but I did not find any point in the book. There wasn¡¯t a direct thought of what the book was about after I had finished the book. Even though the format of the story was not quite what I thought, I still think that the book was put a lot of thinking in it. Out all the books I have read in my life, this book is quite different in a way. One of the books I read before was called Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther, which was about a little boy who had cancer and died, it was a quite depressing biography of a little boy. The reason I am comparing it the with The Catcher in the Rye is because, it only describes basic thoughts in a regular way, but The Catcher in the Rye takes every event and deeply describes every bit of it. Not only that but also some subjects the main character, Holden Caulfield, talks about leads to other things in his life that relates to it. So, it is like branches on a tree, one leading to another. I found that confusing for me, because while I was reading the book, I did not know what to focus on, so that I can comprehend. On the other hand, I slightly did find it interesting for me to read in a way. While I was reading through, I seemed to have enjoyed the deep descriptions of Holden¡¯s life, but one thing I seriously did not really enjoy reading in every other sentence, were the curse words the author slipped in. Every other sentence of this book had curse words slipped in to them. I found that part inappropriate for young readers to read. Over all, I think the author put a load of thought into every paragraph of the book, but I don¡¯t think he mainly focused on the format of the book. Because, if you read through the book, you seem to enjoy it with much interest since it is really descriptive, but once you finish it, you ask yourself, what was the point? I mean, the plot and setting was all great, but what about the ending? The Catcher in the Rye does not seem to leave a memorable thought to the reader. If the author would have put a little more effort on the basic format of the story with reasoning, I think the book would have been one of my favorite books. It seems like the author enjoyed describing every thought of the book with much effort and time. I recommend The Catcher in the Rye to high school students with a book rating of eight out of ten.
am 14. Oktober 1999
I don't understand how some can give this book so little credit. Since I was young I knew that "The Catcher in the Rye" was considered an excellent piece of literature, but I didn't know much else about it. For most of my life I thought it was a book on fishing in the country. I read the book for the first time several weeks ago. I chose it for an independent work in my Advanced Placement English class (Yes, high school, teenager, the point of view is different, I understand.). I was hooked (pun, I know) by the first line. Salinger perfectly captures the psyche and manner of not just a teenager, but a human person. To me, the plot was more than fulfilling. Like another reviewer, I also wondered if some crisis was about to enter Holden's path.However, I was greatly relieved that there was not. This allowed for a great study of the mentality of the character in ordinary life. Such a development would have made the story as phony as the Hollywood spew-outs that the book decries.(By the way, to this particular reviewer, "grab a gun and start shooting the phonies"? I'd suggest a good therapist.) This is what I consider writing not worthy of my time. The plot was intensely believable, and brightened by the fact that Salinger describes personalities that we know exist in perfect detail. The reader can indentify with Holden's observations because everyone shares that cynicism on some level. The reader can digest that cynism and use it to create a more accepting view of life. The ending is blessedly simple and provokes a good amount of thought on relationships in life. Holden's conclusion on life is one we can understand, but not one with which we have to agree.