The Catcher in the Rye The Catcher in the Rye discussion


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reader gender and liking Catcher in the Rye

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Byron  'Giggsy' Paul There is a good thread here Did anyone else just not "get" this book? about liking this book and understanding why its considered great by many.

I wanted to discuss this topic in terms of reader gender. When I read the book, I was already aware that many considered one of the best books of the century while others argue there is nothing special about it.

I am male and loved it, and while naturally you'll find females that love it and males that don't, when I read the book it felt very 'male' to me, beyond the normal amount a book has when having a male narrator or told from male POV. In the years since, I've paid attention to the gender of people speaking of this novel, and it seemed males were more likely to love it and females were more like to ask 'what the heck is so special about this?'

In skimming over the discussion thread I mentioned, it seemed as well that males were much more likely to rate this book highly and it seemed a much higher percentage of those not liking it or disagreeing with its greatness were female.

Unfortunately, enough time has elapsed from when I read this to point out specifics in the book that may explain this, but I did want to see if others agree with my assessment and have further opinions they'd like to share on this


Mary Female here - hated Holden Caufield. He had to be one of the most self-absorbed, irresponsible characters I have ever encountered.


message 3: by Sid (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sid I'm female, and I absolutely LOVED this book. Holden Caulfield is my all-time favourite fictional character. I have a few female friends who also love this book too.

I think it is the age of the reader that is the issue and not so much gender. I first read this when I was 15, and have read it a couple of more times since then. If I had first read this book now (i'm 24), I probably would not have liked it as much.


message 4: by Clyde (last edited Dec 05, 2011 08:34PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Clyde Male here - Ambivalent about the book overall. I agree with Mary about Holden Caufield; he is a self-absorbed little twit fellow that I wouldn't particularly like to know.


Max F. I agree with Sid and her assessment that age plays more of a role in one's appreciation of the novel. Gender may have to do with it too, but from my observations, many more teenagers like it over their adult counterparts


Sian Female and I adored the book (read it at 25). I felt pity and affection for Holden, certainly didn't dislike him.


William Ritch Male - and I was so-so about _Catcher in the Rye_. Oddly, I love all the other Salinger books. I consider them much better than _Catcher_. It did not speak to me in any way. I was bored by Holden Caufield.


Kressel Housman Female. I didn't get it when I was a teenager, but thought it was great as an adult. I always thought it was my age, but perhaps it was a combination of age and gender. Perhaps I had to grow up before I could "get" the male mindset.


Erika Female. I just read it for school and I loved it!


Allison Female. I read it for the first time this year (I'm 26) and I loved it. While I found Holden Caufield whiny and annoying, I also felt sorry for him. He was a teenager, and let's face it, most teenagers are whiny and annoying at one time or another if we're being honest- I know I was. He just had a hard time dealing with things. If I had read it when I was a teenager, I don't thing I would have liked it.


Colby I am a 17 year old male. I disagree with the age comment. I hated it absolutely. I couldn't stand Holden because all he does is just complain complain complain about nothing in particular.


Heather-Lea I am a female and enjoyed the point of view. I know that the main character is male and the thought process is male, but I really enjoyed and connected with the character. I think this was a very interesting question.


Kalila Although I wasn't crazy about the book, and gender differences might be the issue here, I really think that Catcher in the Rye is about a boy's search for authenticity in his life. Holden is constantly talking about how "phoney" everything is, which in my opinion is a quite a human problem. The search for truth or authenticity is something most people encounter at least once in their life if not constantly. So is it really fair to just reduce Catcher in the Rye to simply a book about a boys life? Being a female I was intrigued by the overall theme of the book and I think if read with the intention of learning something about human tendencies, a reader could thoroughly enjoy the book.


Redneck Chickk I'm a girl and I really like the book so far. We're reading it in class, so I'm sure it'll take forever to finish it, but Holden is pretty cool to me.


Missi Byron 'Giggsy' wrote: "There is a good thread here Did anyone else just not "get" this book? about liking this book and understanding why its considered great by many.

I wanted to discuss this topic in terms of reade..."


I LOVED this book when I read it as a teenager and I still do...one of my favorite scenes is the farting episode in church! I like how Holden sees the bs that most people put forth and calls them on it instead of pretending everything is pretty and nice the way it was supposed to be in the 50's. I read the other books Salinger wrote and liked all of them, but Franny and Zooey stands out to me more than the others...check it out! :)


Chris Blocker I'm male and was 31 when I read the book last year. What I felt for it was pretty close to hate, but not quite. Definitely didn't feel it was worth my time.


Nazzy i think this how people view the book depends more on age than anything else (including gender,) but if it's worth anything, I'm a female and I really like the book.


message 18: by Mary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mary I read it when I was in my 20s and read it again in my 50s. Hated it both times.


Colby I have the same feeling about this book as I did with Knowle's A Separate Peace--I didn't enjoy the book much at all, but I can appreciate the thought behind it and how deep it is.


Alannah I'm female. But I feel as though there is a Holden inside of all of us. A part of us that feels out of place and different from the rest of society... It's almost universal in a way.


Janet Lira Me too! God I thought there was something wrong with me! Because I just don't get that from other people! Thank you for that comment!


Cecilia I'm female, and I love the book. First read it in high school, and reacquaint myself with it every year when I teach it in summer school. Yes, Holden can be a self-absorbed twit, but in a way that rings true for me, and at the same time the book is so funny and so sad, I just love it regardless of his flaws. "Sleep tight, ya morons!" or the part where he fantasizes he's been shot - gives me a laugh every time I think of it.


Sarah I'm female, and I thought the book was amazing. The point of the book is that Holden is a self-absorbed twit, so that was easy for me to get past and even find funny at some points.


Frank Male here... and I read the book when I was 36 for the first time and found the book extraordinarily resonant of my own life when I was in my late teens and early twenties. It touched so deeply that same sense of bewilderment that I felt when I first realized for myself the stark difference between idealism and realism. "How can it ever be possible to strike a balance?" I saw, and Holden sees, only back and white.
Also, Holden's relationship with Phoebe, and his brothers Allie and D.B. mine the important far corners of of his developing adulthood. I found the scene at the carousel in the rain, and Holden's wish to spend his life as the catcher in the rye ringingly poignant. And when his friend reads him the words of William Stekel: "The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to die humbly for one," it truly sealed this book, for me, as one of the finest ever.


message 25: by Ruby (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ruby Hollyberry Female, loved it as a kid and love it now. I don't reread it as often as I do Salinger's other books though. I love the others more.


Kathy Duffy Thomas I'm female, and thought the book was dumb when I read it at 16. Maybe I would like it now, several centuries later. When I read it, it was alien to me, a girl in a public school in South Carolina.
Another gender specific book, I think, is A Confederacy of Dunces. Most men I know have liked it, I couldn't finish it.


Candace I'm a girl and read it for the first time at 14, and loved it. I don't like the main character, and I didn't think I needed to to enjoy the book. I like Holden as a character and not as someone I'd hang out with. But it definitely resonating with me. I've read it since at 21ish and liked it then too. But, it hit a chord with me.


message 28: by Sally (last edited Dec 12, 2011 02:15PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Sally I am a female. I read the book as a teenager and couldn't stand it. I have no desire to read it again. I felt the same way about Lord of the Flies, that it was very overrated.


Peter Cat I'm female. I read it when I was 16 and I didn't like it. But when I was 18, I thought it's an interesting book and I like the book so much. I absolutely agree with Holden that there's many hypocrite out there and some people acting so cracked.


Nicole I'm a female and this is one of my favorite books. I love it. I don't understand why people hate Holden so much. I took so much away from this book. Holden made me laugh, and feel something for him. I haven't read this book in quite some time, I'm 26 now, and I'm not sure I would take as much away from it as I did then (I still read it late, when I was about 18 or so), but I still think Holden would hold a place in my heart.


message 31: by Ruby (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ruby Hollyberry I speculate that many people are forced to read this book in school, which can ruin almost any book. I couldn't reread Tom Sawyer for nearly a decade after the teacher chopped it into fragments in 7th grade. Also possibly not everyone has had the experience of being highly intelligent but with mental problems. Holden Caulfield appears to have a pretty serious mood disorder of some sort and possibly some minor learning disabilities as well. The feeling of alienation those traits give you as a young person coming up are possibly difficult to imagine if you didn't experience it.


Nicky I am female, read it at 17 for the first time, loved it. I went through a period from 17-25 where every year I'd read it; each time I felt like I was reexamining Holden and remeeting him. I don't understand why people loathe him so much, when he is obviously a deeply flawed, but ultimately sensitive and intelligent person. He went through such a harrowing loss of a family member, so of course he is skewed, rambling, and confused. Not only did his little brother die, but he also was picked on by his classmates, and had to deal with a creepy teacher who took to much interest in him - and many other pretty 'crummy' situations.

But I think the main thing that separates the believers from the non-believers is the voice in the book. I had one friend (female) tell me she couldn't get past all the "God-damns". She felt his language was too repetitive and crude. While I found the voice to be an authentic and believable representative of a teenage mind, which is a quite impressive task for Salinger to accomplish, many others just find him whiney.

I wonder if it's more the "underdogs" or those who feel "picked on", or those that empathize with underdogs/bullied, that love this book rather than simply young males.


Pamela Female, I read it in my teens and loved it - had a bit of a crush on him too


Iris Annette Female.It's a wonderful book.


message 35: by Erin (new) - rated it 1 star

Erin Female, age 36, hated this book. Not only was Holden an annoying and unlikable character, I found the writing to be silly and it didn't make the story any better. I have enjoyed books with characters that I didn't like, but I didn't like anything about this book.

I thought Salinger tried too hard and failed. My boyfriend also hates it, it's one of the few books we agree on.


Annie I'm female and read this book when I was 14 and loved it. I think that my enjoyment stemmed much more from the authenticity of voice, which I attributed to Salinger's writing more than the narrative "maleness" of the story. I think it's important for me to mention, however, that I did not like Holden Caulfield at all. It was that I could empathize near seamlessly with him that made me love this book. As a 14-year-old, I was very much in conflict with the concept of self-forgiveness, and so despite my deep empathy for Holden, I was unable to actually like him, seeing a lot of myself in him.

As a 20-year-old who has changed emotionally a great deal since being 14 and reading this book, I find myself feeling much more sympathy toward Holden and a diminished capacity for empathy. I do not dislike him quite as much, although I don't as closely identify with him either.

That being said, I still love this book, and not in a way that evokes only nostalgia for the literary adventures of my youth. Salinger's writing (in Catcher in the Rye) is still as authentically fifteen-year-old-boy as it was when I read it six years ago. I believe it is that his writing is authentic rather than how it is authentic that makes "The Catcher in the Rye" a great book. Salinger through Holden, love him or hate him, manages to present an always-emotionally-relavent tale told by an accurate and genuine voice, allowing anyone, regardless of age or gender, to see the basis of humanity in the story.


message 37: by Sammy (new) - added it

Sammy Kammy female here. I liked it, I didn't love it, Holden did come off as kind of whiney at times. But when he did I thought back to when I was his age, and realized I probably could've identified with him very well.

Also probably good to note that I'm not a 'girly-girl', sometimes i get along better with males than females, so Holden's male tendencies didn't really bother me.


Iris Annette Sammy, I absolutley agree with you.

When you are 14,15,16 years old, then everything in your life is (in your opinion) complicated, tragic and so on. And I think most of the teenagers are a bit whiney too...In my opinion salinger found a voice through H.C. to express these confused feelings of young people...and I also have to say that there are wonderful methaphors in this book. sometimes I wonder why there are so many people who can not see them :)


julie Female. I love Catcher in the Rye. First read it when I was in my early 20s. Really liked the interaction between Holden and old Spencer. I feel the same as Annie, the authenticity of voice was what really grabbed me.


Julie Female and I love it! One of my favorite books and I always used to say I was naming my son Holden. I read it when I was 16 but I'm hesitant to read it again because I'm not sure if I'll like it as well at 26.


 Jenni Rascal I'm a girl and I absolutely LOVED HOLDEN CAULFIELD... I'm 15 and I read the book just last month and I think it depends on the person, but I just loved HOLDEN CAULFIELD. Like I said it depends on the person, when I told my teacher that I was going to read it she told me that I probably wouldn't like it, but I did...
I loved this book soooooo much that I went online and found drawings of Holden Caulfield and used them as my phone's wallpaper... I'm that obssessed with the book. I even read it over and over again.


Kerry Charnock I'm a girl and I read this book when I was 14. I think the most important thing about this book is age. At 14, I understood Holden more than I would do now, at 18. The Catcher in the Rye is about the mindset of the reader at the time, and I think teenagers can relate to Holden a lot more than an adult probably would.


Katie Female, read it, loved it and even named my son Holden.


Sheryl Female, 58, read it in High School and read it again about 5 years ago. It was really pleased to see how much had changed since I lived in the south most of my childhood years. Never, I mean never would I have imagined a non-white president. I still remember seeing water fountains labled "Negroes Only". Thank God for Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, etc. Wonderful book.


Kathy Duffy Thomas Kerry wrote: "I'm a girl and I read this book when I was 14. I think the most important thing about this book is age. At 14, I understood Holden more than I would do now, at 18. The Catcher in the Rye is about t..."

I think that's an excellent point.


message 46: by April (last edited Dec 26, 2011 07:46AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

April Female... I've read this book twice, once at age 17 and then again at age 30. When I first read this book at age 17 it was, next to The Great Gatsby, the greatest book ever written. However at age 30, it was painful to get through.
When we are teens we are so selfish, self absorbed, and of the general belief that the world revolves around only us. From this mind set, Holden makes perfect sense. Now as an adult he comes across as an annoying selfish, self absorbed, whiney twit, without a real clue as to what life is all about.
With this book, and this is just my opinion, I think liking, loving, or hating it is more about your maturity level than it is about your gender.
(And now at 34 The Great Gastby is still very high on my list of books I love.)


Valerie Female and while I fully understand Holden's POV, I went through what he did at a much younger age so by the time I picked up the book sometime in my mid teens I found him too old to be that way. Either do something about it or conform, just quit complaining. So I had a hard time getting through the book. I'm planning to attempt another read now that I'm in my early 30's.


Brittany Female, 20 years old. The Catcher in the Rye was a rather frustrating read for me. I contemplated dropping the book many times because of the negative POV. All Holden did was bitch, bitch, bitch. He thought he was better than everybody else and that rubbed me the wrong. It was an accurate portrayal of a teenager, but none the less I didn't like it (or rather, I didn't like Holden's attitude).


Lostshadows Female, read it as a young teenager, and I did not like Holden. It wasn't that he was whiny, so much as he was boring.


message 50: by Lily (last edited Jan 12, 2012 07:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lily I'm female and I first read this book when I ran out reading material on vacation when I was 12. My dad just handed me a beat-up old copy and I LOVED it. I've read it three or four times in the three years since and I've loved it just as much if not more every time.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Catcher in the Rye (other topics)
Lord of the Flies (other topics)
Franny and Zooey (other topics)