I’ve read “The Catcher In The Rye” at different times in my life, and each time I get a new perspective!
My 8th Grade English teacher wrote in my yearbook: “To our own Holden Caulfield.” Based on my reading of the book back then, I thought that was awesome. I’m not so sure right now!
J.D. Salinger’s masterpiece, “The Catcher In The Rye,” is a penetrating look at teenage angst, guilt, confusion, and rebellion. In many ways, it is Seinfeld-esque, being about nothing and everything. Narrated by the main character, Holden Caulfield, in an almost manic conversational style, he recounts to the reader his anxiety-ridden few days after leaving Pencey Prep school early after being told he would not be returning for the next semester. He was “flunking out” as a result of his intransigent nature and intolerance for what he called “phonies,” be they teachers or fellow students. To him, most people, parents included, were varying degrees of “phonies,” except his younger sister Phoebe. She is the only one he truly trusts, and he is afraid of disappointing her.
He journeys back to New York and decides to hide from his family until the designated school break day, when they expect him home. He encounters a prostitute who rips him off, nuns who inspire him, old friends who aggravate him, all the while trying to find meaning and purpose while preserving the innocence of youth. When he finally sees Phoebe, he opens up about what he wants to be: The Catcher in the Rye.
She reminds him that the actual quote from the Robert Burns poem is “If a body meet a body, comin’ through the rye.” He gets annoyed but ultimately reveals that he sees himself as a protector of the young kids he envisions running through fields of rye near a cliff, and his job is to catch them before they go over the cliff. He says, “That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” A metaphor for childhood innocence indeed.
“The Catcher In The Rye” remains a classic, and each time you read it, you’ll discover something new!
Review written by: Larry Pollack
Pair It With:
Old-Fashioned: This classic, Prohibition era cocktail is made from bourbon, bitters, sugar and an orange twist. It’s simple and delicious and you can use whichever whiskey you prefer!