Josh Caporale's Reviews > The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
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Seinfeld ruled 90s television's ratings and many argue that it was the greatest sitcom of all-time, embracing that it was "a show about nothing." The Catcher in the Rye is a random novel written in the early 50s by a J.D. Salinger, whose career was not very prolific and his novel has since become a book on 99.99% of high school curriculums that just about everyone reads. This is what I see as being "a novel about nothing." However, the idea that Seinfeld follows the life and times of Jerry Seinfeld and his gang and The Catcher in the Rye follows Holden Caulfield brings about the postmodern argument that there really is nothing special about any given life and that in the life of the common man, others will simply see it as nothing. In the case of a teenager, who in many cases life is all about them, the postmodern argument displays otherwise. This novel was written right at the peak of postmodernism, too.

Let's talk about Holden Caulfield. I saw him as being a clear misfit and a bad influence. He smoked, drank underage, lied to get his way, got into fights, failed in all except one of his classes, and was just plain rude to just about everyone he came across. He is telling the story and he does not really defend his actions, which I feel cannot be defended. The one thing that really stuck out to me, though, was his love for his siblings. He had a clear sense of affection for his deceased younger brother, Allie, and his living and feisty younger sister, Phoebe. His older brother, D.B., was a Hollywood screenwriter, whom he liked, but tended to find a bit over the top. His interactions and moments where he was with Phoebe are clearly the best parts of the novel. Holden engages in plenty of adventures that are scattered across the novel without a driving plot. He meets teachers at their homes, engages in banters with his roommates, dances with women about ten years older, meets with nuns, and comes into contact with a prostitute... and it really amounts to nothing.

While The Catcher in the Rye can definitely be relatable to teens and strikes chords where it is designated to do so, I cannot say that this was an enjoyable novel and that Holden Caulfield was an enjoyable character. Then again, I am 24 and would never engage in most of the things Holden did. The two of us have nothing in common, but still, I could not see where Holden would be likable. He has traits that people can relate to, but they are clearly not for me.

The most I could recommend The Catcher in the Rye for is a light rent or a cheap buy. I do not find this to be a full price buy nor do I feel that teachers should be held to the standard of assigning this novel. I would much rather prefer that Robert Cormier's novels, specifically I Am The Cheese if we want something with a similar tone to this novel, be assigned instead. Cormier's novels are much more honest AND straightforward than The Catcher in the Rye and I feel that this is what should be displayed in what is assigned in high school. This looks much more like a random selection.

It can also be assured that Mark David Chapman is just a renowned cuckoo. Why this novel would inspire him to kill John Lennon is beyond my wildest beliefs...

You can find the discussion I had about this book on Literary Gladiators here:
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Reading Progress

June 30, 2016 – Started Reading
June 30, 2016 – Shelved
July 2, 2016 –
page 41
July 3, 2016 –
page 94
40.17% "...and it's a novel about nothing. I guess it can be interpreted in a few ways..."
July 4, 2016 –
page 149
July 5, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim B. I'm pretty pro-Catcher myself but I agree that books like Cormier's are probably better classroom assignments instead since he was actually writing about teens for teens. (And there's always The Outsiders, which was written by a teen!) Regardless, I read this at exactly the right time in my life (as an angsty fifteen-year-old so my liking of the book is most likely because of *that* rather than because it's an especially great piece of literature.

Josh Caporale I would say The Outsiders reigns supreme among the teen literature of Hinton's time. It was quite amazing what she put together with that novel! I would say that the point of time in which you read a particular work clearly makes a difference, for perspective is key! For me, I could see where Catcher was strongest, but overall, it was only mediocre to me.

message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 05, 2016 07:34PM) (new)

Even though I love LOVE LOVE (did i mention LOVE) Salinger....oh, how I truly respect your opinion. I love to hear from the "other side" of the coin....however.......
I read Catcher very young...actually, before I was a teenager...I was captivated at that age...I then read EVERYTHING Salinger wrote which is not much..then I read every biography written about him whether deemed true or not...a bit obsessed, yes....but, I reread Catcher as an adult and it is like re-reading a journal passage of myself...I get goosebumps of embarrassment...I laughed a bit at things I took so, so, so very seriously at a different, the gem of this, the wisdom....the truest wisdom, my friend is that Catcher is a pearl that you must plunge into the sea to obtain right at the moment the oyster was ready to produce it...that age of innocence...the theme of Catcher...if you missed that boat you will only see a skeleton, void of anything remotely of skin, organs, blood....

You missed the boat....but, you are also correct in your assessment at this age you are now...:)

message 4: by Glenn (new)

Glenn Russell Very fine write-up, Josh!

Joanne Interesting take on the novel. I did enjoy the book however I read it way past my teens. I wonder if different age group view the novel differently.

sologdin text is a great example of inverse proportion, insofar as there is no larger disparity in world literature between the value of the independent variable (merit) and of the dependent (reputation) than this text.

Josh Caporale Tbrando, thank you for your feedback! I can agree that hitting the target with Catcher is key, but I also feel that you have to have that carefree, reckless kind of feeling as well. I do not feel that a "do-gooder" is going to be amazed by the activities that Holden engages. Still, every teenager is different! Salinger did not really have a prolific career outside of Catcher, aside from Franny and Zooey and I believe some shorter works. Thank you for sharing your argument! :)

Josh Caporale Thank you, Glenn! I am glad you enjoyed my review! I saw your review for the Cuban literature collection and I really need to explore that so much more!

Josh Caporale Joanne, I feel that it all comes down to how you approach Holden Caulfield, for the story is all about him and his happenings. His personality, his actions, and whether or not one could relate to any of these things plays a huge role and while his peers could probably relate most, I could see others feeling differently.

message 10: by Josh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Josh Caporale sologdin, there is definitely something that can be said about text! I feel that for The Catcher in the Rye, it relies heavily on reputation, while its subject of merit is left up to the reader.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Josh wrote: "Tbrando, thank you for your feedback! I can agree that hitting the target with Catcher is key, but I also feel that you have to have that carefree, reckless kind of feeling as well. I do not feel t..."

Yes, I so agree, Josh...the careless part...I was that way very much and I could relate...I was a misfit and never fit in so I think if you are an outsider looking in, you were drawn to Catcher....isn't it funny that Salinger did not publish prolifically, but a lot of artists, writers, ect...were the same, but the effect of one work is what propelled them into history. Look at James Dean, the movie actor. He did about three notable films in his time, yet how many wanna-be Jimmy's came out of that time and even til now?

I liked your review!:-)

Eileen I read this book in high school and hated it even then. I don't understand why so many people rhapsodize about how wonderful it is.

message 13: by Josh (new) - rated it 3 stars

Josh Caporale Eileen, it seems like there is something people see in the novel. People like ourselves see a whiny teenager, but I am guessing there are a lot of teenagers that are agitated with what they have to read for school and in this case, there is a someone they can identify...

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