The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger

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'The Catcher in the Rye' is a book by JD Salinger about a teenager named Holden Caulfield. It is about his life, and in particular about a couple of days he spent in New York. It is a book about growing up, about non-conformity, and about life and how much control we have over it. Over the course of the book we get to know Holden very well, and are given ample oppurtunity to make up our mind about him. However, love him or hate him, there is at *least* a small bit of Holden in all of us, which perhaps explains the book's popularity. The style of the book is very original, and is written as though Holden is sitting here talking to us about what happened. The first sentence is a perfect example of this:

'If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied before they had me, and all that David Copperfield1 kind of crap2.'

At the start of the book Holden is in some sort of mental institution or similar. He proceeds to tell us about 'Some madman stuff that happened to me before Christmas'. When his story starts he is still trying to terms with the death ot his brother Ali, and feels that the only one who really understands him is his sister Phoebe. The relationship between them is great and it is her who makes him realise at the end of the book that he simply can't help everyone.

Much of the book is simply Holden talking to us, about 'phonies', New York, his family, schoolmates, and Life in general. This book is highly rewarding and if you read it properly you finish knowing more about Holden than he knows himself. Unfortunately the book is so original and unique it's quite hard to describe. The only way you can really understand it is to read it yourself, so what are you waiting for! The only thing this researcher can really compare it to is the film Donnie Darko, which obviously drew some influence from the book, as the charactor of Donnie is quite blatantly based on Holden. Having said this if you didn't like the film Donnie Darko you may still enjoy The Catcher in the Rye, so read it anyway!

Further Information

  • The book is approximately 200 pages long.
  • It was written in 1953.
  • The book came fifteenth in the BBC's "Big Read".
  • The author, JD Salinger, also wrote Franny and Zooey. A lot of The Catcher in the Rye is in fact based on actual events in his life. Nowadays he is a recluse, who lives in much the same way that Holden plans to in the book.
1A very long semi-autobiographical book about a boy's life by Charles Dickens2Be warned the book does contain a lot of swearing but this informal language helps assert the feeling that Holden is 'talking' to us

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