The Catcher in the Rye The Catcher in the Rye discussion


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Let's talk about how "The Catcher in the Rye" changed our lives

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message 1: by K. (new) - rated it 5 stars

K. hi everyone,

i read j.d. salinger's timeless novel, tcitr (the catcher in the rye--apologies, if you're not an acronym person) for the first time a few of years ago. last year, i got it as a gift for my birthday and i have read it a total of three times and to me, it seems like this book changes my view on myself, the world and everything and everyone around me every time i read it.
this fall, i started my first year of college and i also want to read it again to see if any of my perspectives on anything continue to evolve. (i will elaborate later.)

so, let's be honest and start a discussion: has the catcher in the rye or any characters or elements of the story have an impact on your life or view of the world or yourself? has this book changed you in any way?

thanks,
k.


Paul Raymer The Catcher in the Rye is known as a Coming-of-Age story. But don't see it. Holden doesn't seem to get out of his own way or face his future.


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

K. Paul wrote: "The Catcher in the Rye is known as a Coming-of-Age story. But don't see it. Holden doesn't seem to get out of his
own way or face his future."


hi paul,

thanks for commenting.

i can understand your point. when i think "coming of age" i think of a book that begins with the main character starting high school and telling the experiences of their life all the way through college, or even 75 years old and they live to tell the story of their great-grandchildren.

in contrast, The Catcher in the Rye isn't exactly a typical coming of age story. he doesn't go from one age to another, and he does not grow old and live to tell us events of his life throughout the years, exactly. it seems that he is telling us about a year in his life and some of the thoughts and places he encountered.

however, the elements of Holden's story make a classic coming of age tale. he narrates the story as a flashback, and includes his own actions and conversations, and how he reacted emotionally and transitioned his thoughts.

for example, he discusses the event of leaving high school, and enters an adult world where realizes he is getting older and dejectedly begins to understand adulthood and the realization that his official childhood is ending, and i believe he starts to become somewhat depressed and a little bit lost because of this, and also, he continues to make his way into this adult environment but wants to stay true to his childish beliefs.

he does not follow the standard procedures of adult interaction and communication; he talks to taxi drivers and prostitutes, looking for meaningful and intellectual conversation, looking for someone to relate to.

in a way, he wants to talk to a variety of people (adults) and try to decipher why and how they have become the way they are: anti-social, angry, clueless, etc.

so, i don't know if this makes sense, but in a way, he's is growing from a certain age, into a whole new dimension of various worlds.
he is having a hard time adapting to so-called adulthood and he finds it immensely overwhelming.

you know the phrase, "beginning a new chapter in his life"? well, it seems to me that Holden is not beginning a new chapter of his life, but rather a whole new book series with words he cannot comprehend and characters he does not in any way associate with. he is lost and does not see any point in being found.

And you're right, Holden does not seem to elaborate about wanting to face his future. he is merely afraid, anxious, and somewhat melancholy about the whole "growing up process" and it is clear that he does not want to face his fears, another element of a coming-of-age story. except in this one, the protagonist fails to move forward. (maybe he does. maybe he doesn't.) he is lost, like many people are lost when they are faced with a challenge.

to summarize, i believe it is a strong coming of age story. he is coming of a new age, and a new era in his life in which he dedicates a thorough story of thoughts, experiences, and places he encountered throughout his high school years.

and although, Holden does not feature five, ten, or twenty years of his life in which he grows mentally and physically, the story is him explaining a momentous experience: the bridge from adolescence into adulthood.

and yes, i am aware that Holden never actually seems to have "crossed the bridge", but he talks about it and the entire book is about him mentally growing from childhood to adulthood.


message 4: by Monty J (last edited Oct 29, 2020 07:36PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying Paul wrote: "The Catcher in the Rye is known as a Coming-of-Age story. But don't see it. Holden doesn't seem to get out of his own way or face his future."

The story is coming-of-age because he is in transition, on the threshold of adulthood trying to solve his problems (face the world) independently rather than lean on his parents, who seem unavailable because of their grief over Ailee's death, which Holden is also grievously suffering from. He keeps screwing up because of his own feelings over the loss of his beloved brother as well as the death of his friend James Castle, who committed suicide wearing Holden's sweater.

Holden is at a crisis point, frustrated at every turn by his dilemma of having to return home and face his parents, having failed his classes and getting kicked out of school for the third time. Holden's thoughts are deeply self-reflective as well as critical of society, sometimes irrational, insightful or enlightening.

He is at the breaking point, and in fact does break, ending up in a "rest home" in California where his brother visits him.

When people are in a fragile state, the simple everyday challenges of life can break us. Only his little sister, Phoebe, understood what Holden was going through and stood up for him, possibly saving his life.


message 5: by K. (new) - rated it 5 stars

K. Monty J wrote: "Paul wrote: "The Catcher in the Rye is known as a Coming-of-Age story. But don't see it. Holden doesn't seem to get out of his own way or face his future."

The story is coming-of-age because he in..."


Excellent summary and well-crafted, Mr. Heying.


message 6: by Sangita (new) - added it

Sangita Banerjee Paul wrote: "The Catcher in the Rye is known as a Coming-of-Age story. But don't see it. Holden doesn't seem to get out of his own way or face his future."

May be Salinger, himself did not see his novel as 'coming of age' story.. You know how it is with 'the know it all' critics who can write many sentences with big words to show off their intellectual prowess by interpreting what Salinger meant by one act or one dialogue of Holden, when he may have said exactly what he meant..


message 7: by Monty J (last edited Oct 30, 2020 08:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying Sangita wrote: "Paul wrote: "The Catcher in the Rye is known as a Coming-of-Age story. But don't see it. Holden doesn't seem to get out of his own way or face his future."

Correct, Salinger did not set out to write a coming of age novel; he set out to write short stories based on his life, and later, on advice of his creative writing teacher*, he combined them into what became The Catcher In The Rye.

Incidentally, Salinger carried these stories with him throughout his 3-year tour of duty in as an Army counterintelligence sergeant during WWII and worked on them in his spare time. This may be why some of the scenes are so vivid--like the bare-breasted squaw diorama at the museum and him sitting by the carousel watching Phoebe ride round and round and Ailee's baseball mitt tattooed with poems and Sally Hayes' cute butt in her skating skirt and playing checkers with Jane Gallagher and wiping away her tears. Memories like these would be dear to a soldier in the muck and blood of war and become iconic through repeated renderings on paper.

The Catcher In The Rye was written before the marketing term "young adult fiction" existed, but the term bildungsroman, or coming of age genre, was well established, as with Hermann Hesse's Demian (1919) being an example. But that's a term used mostly by literary analysts and academia for classification purposes. Salinger couldn't care less how people classify his work. He wrote what pleased him, what burned in him to get out, as most really good writers do.

I think Salinger did write "exactly what he meant" and let the chips fall. Why would he care how the book is classified as long as throngs of people buy it and read it? A lot of kids read it because of an assignment. I did, at age 19, and didn't like it. But I bought it and read it again at age 65 to see why so many copies had been sold, and it blew me away.

*Whitt Burnett was Salinger's Creative Writing professor at Columbia and published his first short story in his litmag, "Story Magazine": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whit_Bu...


Naima Major It helped me to understand the preoccupations of my White bourgeois friends in the integrated neighborhood where I lived and attended school, particularly the Jewish boys I befriended and dated off and on. It just seemed to me that they had problems Black boys would love to have! That said, I enjoyed the sense of adventure, the desire to flee parental expectations and the guy was just funny. I then read Franny and Zoey! Plain talk: my friends and I lived next door or in close walking distance and we sat together in AP and Honors classrooms; but I lived in Another Country, entirely more Baldwin than Caulfield.


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