Richard's Reviews > The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
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May 28, 08

did not like it

My theory as to this book's unusually polarizing nature: either you identify with Holden Caulfield or you don't.

Those who see themselves (either as they were or, God help them, as they are) in Holden see a misunderstood warrior-poet, fighting the good fight against a hypocritical and unfeeling world; they see in Salinger a genius because he gets it, and he gets them.

Those of us who don't relate to Holden see in him a self-absorbed whiner, and in Salinger, a one-trick-pony who lucked into performing his trick at a time when some large fraction of America happened to be in the right collective frame of mind to perceive this boring twaddle as subversive and meaningful.
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01/31 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-44 of 44) (44 new)

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Skylar Burris Well said.

Richard Thank you!

Kari totally disagree that people who relate to holden see in themselves a misunderstood warrior poet. holden is supposed to be loathsome, the book makes that pretty obvious.

message 4: by Kristen (new)

Kristen I find it interesting that you think of Salinger as a "one-trick-pony." Have you read any of his other work? Personally, I think his other stories are much better than this one.

Richard Kari,

I agree with you that Holden is unpleasant but I don't think that most of the book's fans hold this opinion.

Richard Kristen,

I was referring to that fact that none of his other works is anywhere near as highly regarded as Catcher but no, I haven't read them, and you may well be right.

Swantonist dense review. Obviously Holden is hypocritical. That's the whole point.

Marlin This review is dead on aligned to my feelings of "catcher". It got incredibly tedious and I kept waiting for something waiting major to happen; I suppose it's a function of 21st century sensibilities.

I'm won't be highly recommending this one. I really won't :)


message 9: by Erin (new) - rated it 1 star

Erin This was definitely a review that I wasn't expecting! I hold a similar view in that either you like the book or you don't, and very often this view centers around Holden himself.

message 10: by Meghanangier (new) - added it

Meghanangier I think, you don't really understand the book at all, and neither do any of the people who like Holden. Holden is the prime example of a hypocritical teenager, who knows nothing, and knows he knows nothing, and ruins himself in a few days. When reading this book, one is meant to observe the story, as it is told by a very unlikable character. Holden is intolerable, but fascinating. The world through his eyes is a world I have never seen, and I read, and re-read this amazing novel, each time finding the absolute brilliance of Salinger's words. And calling one of the most brilliant character writers a one-trick-pony is a very dense and unintelligent statement made by someone who has obviously not read his other work.

message 11: by Meghanangier (new) - added it

Meghanangier and ahh, the brilliance of a corrupted adolescent who wants more than anything to protect innocence is something that would drive anyone mad. He wants to catch the children from falling out of the innocent world in which they play. Just the utter brilliance of his immature corrupted character who wants to devote his life to saving children

message 12: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Stoker Meghanangier wrote: "I think, you don't really understand the book at all, and neither do any of the people who like Holden. Holden is the prime example of a hypocritical teenager, who knows nothing, and knows he knows..."

I'm sorry Meghanangier, I say this with no disrespect meant to you in the slightest, but I am very tired of being told that I 'don't understand' the novel, just because I don't love it like other people seem to. I understand about being a hypocritical teenager; I am one myself! That doesn't mean I have to love the novel. I understand its sentiment but I don't like how it is written at all as I didn't engross me in the way, to me, a good novel should.

And I don't feel that expressing an opinion about Salinger's work means someone is 'unintelligent' just because they do not understand the hype.

Emily Dutton Salinger wasn't a one-trick pony. He wrote until he died, but he didn't want to deal with publishers. Instead he published short stories in magazines and newspapers. He said, and I quote "It's almost unbearable for me to realize that my book will be kept on a shelf out of their (my readers) reach". A large fraction of America wasn't in the right frame of mind - this book was banned in countless schools and countries, and people got fired for getting their pupils to read this book. This book was meaningful because its kind had never been seen before. Holden was the greatest anti-hero since Huckleberry Finn, and the twaddle is not twaddle, it's postmodern, where twaddle is only twaddle if it is. Get that? It's an important book because it came out during the Cold War, conformity and the start of the 1950s. It was the end of WWII, of course it caused a scandal! the point is to identify - the themes of teenage angst and alienation had yet to be explored. Try reading this book as if you has never come across its kind before.

Amanda If there was an 'unlike' I'd check it. I didn't identify with Holden as a person, but appreciate him as a character. I guess we all look for different things in a book and perhaps the mood we are in when we read also influences how we feel about a book. :-)

Courtney You're not meant to want to be Holden Caulfield. This is yet another review that misses the point. Did you miss the part where he ends up in a mental institution at the end? It is made clear that as a narrator he is highly unreliable because he is in the middle of a nervous breakdown. He is presented as a scared teenager who doesn't know where his life is headed and doesn't want to let go of childhood. Some people identify with that and that's fine. But the book does not endorse the view that you are healthy for identifying with Holden because Holden has mental issues, for god's sakes.

Allen A one-star rating is just too much. This novel deserves more credit.

Wendy Terry I didn't relate to him at all, but I still enjoyed the novel. I wanted to smack him, but he is a typical teenaged boy, I think. I did like his little monologue about spray-painting "Fuck You" on walls and such. That's one of the only things Holden was right about.
But still, I loved the novel. I think being annoyed by the anti-hero was precisely the point.

Markus Good review!

Allen Wendy wrote: "I didn't relate to him at all, but I still enjoyed the novel. I wanted to smack him, but he is a typical teenaged boy, I think. I did like his little monologue about spray-painting "Fuck You" on wa..."

Holden's pain is real. You have to realize he said the things he did because of how messed up the world really was. People don't like this book because they think it lacks a plot, but a novel doesn't need a plot to be great.

message 20: by Zema (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zema Well said mate (Richard), i dont think people dont like the book because it lacks a plot, because it is not as refreshing as it was 50 years ago, its kind of phony you know.

Micaela I agree with you, Richard. You either love Holden or you hate him. I just happened to fall in the latter category.

Sarah You're supposed to hate Holden and relate to him at the same time. That's kind of the point.

Yakub Medici I identify a bit with Holden. At least the whole "phony" part. I still think he's whiny and self-absorbed. Neither of those things impede my enjoyment of the book. I don't like perfect protagonists. Besides, I think everyone should have some empathy for Holden. He has some serious emotional issues. He's a messed up kid.

Yakub Medici Wait a minute. How is Salinger a one trick pony? None of his other works are all that much like Catcher in the Rye. The man had versatility.

message 25: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam Raines Actually it is because of Holden's mixed up opinions which make the book so relatable. When you're a teenage boy your emotions and feelings are at their most volatile, you are still finding yourself and wanting to be the best you can be, but have no idea how to do it. Holden isn't a hero, and he knows it, he wants to be one, but he doesn't know how to be one.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Very true, I agree this book is sort of a hit or miss. But I feel like you are missing a key part. One of the primary reasons for Holden to exist is to show audiences not to be like Holden and that nothing stays innocent and pure forever.

message 27: by Aia (new) - rated it 3 stars

Aia Shtia Precisely! I don't relate with Holden though I try as much as i can to understand him in the book. He is a teenager, after all. But all he ever sees mostly are phonies, stupid people, etc. I am not being a hypocrite. I think the way he does to sometimes but in character, he just teems with it!

Teodor Nikolov I don't identify with Holden but I can see Salinger's genius. The author even describes the solution to that "phase" - everybody needs an anchor, a catcher to help him through it and although Holden wants to be nothing than the catcher in the rye at the end his sister Phoebe is the one "catching" him. I think Phoebe is the real hero, no matter whether she realises it or not. In my opinion most people don't even know how much their attitude can affect others but Salinger sure got it. I wouldn't say the novel is life-changing but it's definitely a must-read.

Cosmic Arcata The Catcher in the Rye is about WW2. It is a story within a story. Holden (which is the name of a car) is just a vehicle to "understand" the WW2. See my review. When you understand that Salinger couldn't say what he knew about this war so he wrote it as a children's book... Just like Felix Salten in Bambi (not the Disney version, which is probably why Salinger didn't get his published.

Brandt Anderson You nailed it. Pretty much what I would have said, but better.

Heather Sheppard connor Amen!!!!

Misbah So I'm guessing you're on the latter side? I guess it depends at what point in your life you've read the book

rpgmaker I agree, it still has very enjoyable moments. I kept expecting more tho.

Jennifer Buckwalter You hit the nail on the head.

Harley Rose I think you're dead on, too... Except... I did relate to Holden... and I still thought he was a self-absorbed whiner. And oh, God, so annoying. I'm dumbfounded as to why this book is so popular. Dumbfounded.

Elizabeth Anne I agree. I find Holden to be very annoying and repetitive. He complains a lot and just has to grow up and mature.

message 37: by Tim (new)

Tim Yes, very well said. Salinger just happened to write the first young adult novel. The genre has improved quite a bit thanks to much more talented writers. Just finished watching "Salinger" the movie and feel like I need to shower. He was really kind of skeevy; he had relationships with several teenage girls...even as late as his 50's. Um yuck. Strange no one talks much about that.

Tulika The first line pretty much sums it up. But I'll be an anomaly to that. I used to be like Holden was, disliking everyone and all, but since I recognized that about myself and started working on changing it, I can see the other side of the coin too. So even though I didn't like the book very much, I didn't hate it either.

Frances "Boring twaddle" perfectly sums up this massively overrated novel.

message 40: by Noa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Noa Bash I feel like I'm the only one who is Holden. I don't just relate to him, I am Holden. I could never hate him because of the compounding similarities between him and me. I have such a love for this book, I don't know it just kinda works.

Natali Calderon I couldn't agree more. I dreaded reading every page of Holden's neverending whining. It just dragged on.

message 42: by Chad (new) - rated it 1 star

Chad Ponton He is just a spoiled little rich kid, who is mad because he has to earn his own way.

This is the only book I gave away, not to someone in particular, but just to get rid of it.

message 43: by Anduo (new)

Anduo Wang haha, i dont identify with Holden Caulfield, and i love the book, ..., and i enjoy reading the negative comments here XDD

message 44: by Jonathan (new) - added it

Jonathan Valdez Haha. SPOT ON

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