J. D. Salinger ‘the catcher in the rye’

J. D. Salinger ‘the catcher in the rye’

This is story of young man (the man of 16 years old in 1950s N.Y.C.), who was kicked from yet another school for poor achievement. Holden Caulfield goes to N.Y.C. to ‘take a vocation’ before returning to his parents. Book is written like monologue in a slang book describes Holden’s thoughts and activities over these few days.

The book seems have no a plot. And I think it’s because of idea of this book. Author doesn’t seek to show main character (Holden Caulfield) in some kind of action. Everything, that Holden does are simple actions, and reader of this book, if he hopes to find some events (like love episodes, shooting, travelling, etc) may be very disappointed. What did Holden do during these 3 days:

• Holden Caulfield is kicked out from prep school
• He visits his history teacher (Spencer)
• He wants to kill his roommate Stradlater because of Jean Gallagher.
• Holden leaves the dorm late at night (screams: ‘sleep tight, ya morons’)
• Talks with mother of Ernest Morrow in the train. Lies a lot.
• Goes to Edmont Hotel (watches through the window old man, dressing women clothes and man and women squirting water out of their mouth to each other).
• Rings up to even unknown person (Faith Cavendish; he got her telephone number during one party).
• Goes to Lavender room and spends time with 3 lousy blondes.
• Goes to Ernie’s (night club) to listen to Ernie playing on piano.
• On the way to club talks to driver about ducks.
• Talks to Lillian (D.B.’s ex girlfriend) and her navy boyfriend in the night club.
• Walks back to hotel, orders a prostitute and declines to have a sex with her because of the silliest reasons. After all – conflict with Mourice.
• Rings to Sally.
• In the morning he talks to nuns during his breakfast.
• He buys a record to Phoebe.
• Goes to the museum (‘Certain things. They should stay the way they are’)
• Meets Sally and goes to theatre, ice-skating at the Radio-city.
• Goes to Wicjer bar to listen some french singers (Tina and Janine). Meets old friend (Luce). Actually, drinks a lot.
• Late at night, all drunk, goes to park to see the ducks. Then goes home.
• Visits Antolini and leaves him in the morning because he wakes up when Antolini is patting him.
• Goes to Phoebe school and asks to give her a note about meeting by the museum.
• Meets Phoebe and decides not to go anywhere.

But all these actions, made by Holden, don’t make big sense to the story. Main thing still is not the behaviour, but thoughts. Book describes Holden, a little bit childish person, who searches for truth and sees just lie and fraud in these days world. During these days he describes a developing nervous breakdown, unexplained depression, impulsive and illogical behaviour.

In every situation we meet Holden’s thoughts and memories. These thoughts and helps to write great book about 3 days of life. From this book we see minds of almost every 16 years old stereotype teenager. Maybe not everybody feel the same feelings in the same way, but these feelings of lonesome teenager are part of our life, which we ignore or just don’t want to see.

Holden sees the truth. When a successful mortician tells the school to follow his example and pray when things go bad, it is Holden Caulfield who points out that the guy is praying for more people to die. Older people would say – ‘who cares? It’s his profession’. With the age people becomes more interested in themselves, and less interested in surrounding, other people. But not Holden.

He has different sides to himself. There are certain things, that don’t care much. As he travels along, Holden tempts fate on a number of occasions, anyone of which could have resulted in his death or serious injury. There are certain things that he takes a notice to. And, of course, certain situations that could make him get easily depressed (for example: when his brother died, he resorted to smashing all the windows).

He often calls everybody morons, phoney, etc. Sometimes we could even thing, that everything for him is coloured in dark colours. It’s not so. There are certain things that he thinks of, worries, makes him interested. They are strange ones and I could say that older people also ignores them with rhetoric question – ‘who cares?’ During all these days he thinks where the ducks from the lake in central park goes during the winter. He even asks some taxi drivers about it. He thinks about his sister and dead brother. He has warm feelings, like other, but the world around him seems ignoring it.

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.

I liked this book very much because I like that kind of books, which not create sort of empty fantasies during reading them, but books, which can help to understand myself or the surrounding better. Books, which leads to understanding. Leads to truth.