Rebecca's Reviews > The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
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's review
Oct 22, 2007

did not like it

I can't believe this is a required read for middle school and high school aged kids. This was a required read when I was a sophmore in high school. I remember feeling very uncomfortable and even offended that I had to read this book. It was filled with language and a lifestyle that was offensive to me. I could not relate to it at all and could not believe that my teacher would want me to read a book filled with language we were not supposed to utter in school not to mention the boy's behavior that I could in no way relate to. I can't believe it's on the required read list in my daughter's 8th grade core class.

I could not get past how it was completely against everything I was raised to be. I know not everyone is fortunate enough to grow up in a "traditional" family but I don't believe that kids should have to read about these kinds of extreme experiences in order to appreciate what they have. I think teenagers are so self absorbed still in the process of discovering themsevles that when reading material such as this is placed in front of them at that point in their life they get the wrong idea like it is acceptable to use foul language or act inappropriately. Or, oh well if this is happening, it happens to lots of people. Some of my friends thought our teacher must be cool to let us read a book with language like that. I don't know why it's considered such a "modern classic."

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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Murgatroyd Hello Rebecca,

I think you should realise that what you hold as a positive experience is not necessarily the only way to become a better person. Who knows even that the ultimate goal should be to be a better person ? We just state it is, because we like that idea and hope it's true. Maybe going through a brawl or a sexual incident can make you that more wise or make your life that much more complete. You can't claim the values you hold are the only one for everyone.

I do agree that you should be given an alternative if you truly dislike a book, but be honest and don't say it's "because it offends me". How could you learn to later deal with things that offend you if you don't try at all?

message 2: by Abi (last edited Apr 14, 2010 10:19AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Abi Your review is hilarious. Honestly, I didn't know people like you still existed. It's not the 1950s anymore, love. 'Fortunate enough to grow up in a "traditional" family'? Well, my family is 'traditional' in the sense that my parents are married and I have a brother - mum, dad, son, daughter, it's the classic nuclear set up. But I'm certainly glad that my upbringing and my society is liberal enough not to teach me that literature is bad if it includes swearing, drinking or sex. Literature is about human life, in all its forms, and that means it's not always about repressed, 'traditional' values. Yes, sometimes people have sex (although not in this book). Sometimes they get drunk. Sometimes they say god damn. It doesn't make them bad people, and it absolutely, certainly does not make this a bad book. This is a bad book for quite different reasons, and you need some serious work on your empathy skills.

Rebecca Abi wrote: "Your review is hilarious. Honestly, I didn't know people like you still existed. It's not the 1950s anymore, love. 'Fortunate enough to grow up in a "traditional" family'? Well, my family is 'tradi..."

I'm glad that I gave you a good laugh. However, I think you missed my whole point. I was giving a mother's perspective. I was pointing out that I do not believe that this should be required reading for high school or middle school aged kids.

I was relating from my own perspective from when I was in high school. I totally missed the point and so did everyone else around me. While others might not have been offended by it, they missed the whole point too. They were discussing how hypocritical the teachers and staff were to not let them use language like that when we could certainly read it; "what's the difference?" Or they felt they were getting away with something naughty by reading it. They were not into the plight of Holden. Or the sad fact that he was having a breakdown. They missed the whole point! Those continue to be the discussions of high school age kids on this book. Read other reviews of high school aged kids.

You relate to books in different ways at different times in your life; mostly because of life experience you've gained. Most high school, and certainly middle school aged kids do not have any point of reference to be able to get anything out of this book other than the point the kid is a rebel and is out to have a good time. They miss the point. It is not because "I don't have any empathy skills." What's to empathize with this boy who is going around choosing to make bad decisions? That's what you think in high school.

I am CERTAINLY GLAD I do live in a society where we are fee to express and write our own points of view; where it can be available for whoever wishes to read it. However, you should not be required to read something that is controversial or offensive to you.

And yes, as an adult, I still find this book offensive. Not only because it is way too full of religious expletives but also because I don't think Salinger gave enough substance or realism to Holden's character to evoke enough sympathy that you should have had for him as a misguided teenager. There are so many more well written books for teens to read to help them develop more empathy for the less fortunate.

Rebecca Murgatroyd wrote: "Hello Rebecca,

I think you should realise that what you hold as a positive experience is not necessarily the only way to become a better person. Who knows even that the ultimate goal should be t..."

Hi Murgartroyd,

You are right in the fact that we need to experience other's point of views and where they come from in life to be able to appreciate the value of life and what it has to offer.

However, I think you missed the point of my review. I was giving it in reference to be required reading material on the middle-school and high school age level. I do not feel that it is appropriate or has any type of value for kids at those levels.

Because of all the language (especially religious expletives) and because he puts himself in almost every bad place a teenager should be in, most kids have no point of reference to it. Or if they do, they are not mature enough to make any sort of connection to the fact that it is not a possitive thing in any way shape or form.

I do not believe Salinger gives Holden's character enough depth to be able to connect with him in any real way.

I would rather my kids read something of a more real nature that does not offend so much that they can't get past it. that they can make connections and develop empathy for the person.

Certainly not everyone that makes bad choices is a bad person. In that case, we would all be bad. It is good that we can learn from other's mistakes and use their experiences to help us avoid them ourselves.

There are just so many more BETTER options than Catcher in the Rye.

message 5: by Em (new) - rated it 1 star

Em You can't shelter your kids forever.
And if you did, they would likely resent you for it.
In high school, I had to read "Invisible Man," and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
The Catcher in the Rye is much much tamer than those two books. The books I had to read arent even studied in most high schools due to their content. How would you handle it if your children had to read those books?
High schools and middle schools are not going to be handing out copies of "Anne of Green Gables."
It's ok to disagree with some books, but to judge them because of "bad language" is ignorant and naive.

Nevena your review is absolutely ridiculous. you are a mother? i am a 16 year old girl and unfortunately seem to understand this book better than you.

Kierstin ^Understanding something doesn't mean accepting it, nor appreciating its morality level.

Nicole I agree. This first time I read this book my first thought was that the author wasn't much of one if he couldn't write without the cursing. I understand emphasizing a characters traits and a time period but seriously? I've since read the book again as an adult and hated it. I still wish high school students could choose a book of their liking, have it approved and study it. Books like this would fall by the wayside and we would get better work from students, as they are genuinely interested in the subject.

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.

Salinger tells you this is not a David Copperfield story. So don't read it like it is about Holden. Hint: look at the first page of David Copperfield to understand "Caiulfields" name.

I hope you will reread it again. This time when you get to the Merry go round play the music Salinger said was playing, and see if that makes sense or if he is using this book to tell you about money, power and war.

Read my review of the book.

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