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The Catcher in the Rye
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New School Classics- 1900-1999 > The Catcher in the Rye - Spoilers

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Trisha | 492 comments Happy reading! I have heard very different reviews of this novel. Some people absolutely love it while others are less than thrilled. Where do you stand?


Silver | 102 comments This is one of my absolutely all time favorite books. I first read it in high school, and instantly fell in love with it and I re-read it again in honor of the death of J.D. Salinger, and I was a little worried about how my perceptions of the book may have been changed as an adult. I loved the book so much when I first read it, I feared that rereading it might spoil that, but instead I was reminded of just why I loved it so much and fell in love with it all over again.


Trisha | 492 comments Interesting! I am not loving the book very much. It seems like Caulfield is a very pessimistic sort of fellow who does a lot of complaining and whining. Aside from Salinger doing an excellent job of capturing teenage angst, I am not sure what else there is to the story. What are some of the things that you enjoy most about it? You mentioned that it was one of your all time favorites and I'd love a different perspective!


Silver | 102 comments I guess part of it is the fact that I myself tend to have a pessimistic nature and so I could really relate to Holden and I was a lot like him when I was in high school and well I am still a bit like him today.

For me Holden's view on the people who called the "phonies" just really clicked for me, and I knew exactly where he was coming from.

And I really enjoy the sardonic tone in J.D. Salinger's writing and I guess in a lot of ways I can relate to his world view. I am a big fan of unconventional narrators and narrators that do have a darker edge to them.


Trisha | 492 comments I must say that I liked the little sister better than I did Caulfield. Hahaha!


Silver | 102 comments I really enjoyed Phobe, she is a great chracater.


Emily (The Litertarian) (emmaleighbug) It has been a long time since I've read this book, but I also loved it. I didn't think of him as whiny, per se, I just went along with it open minded and just had to laugh at the way he spoke so often. The writing is what I loved, I think, more than anything. I haven't read anything else by Salinger yet, but would love to soon!


Silver | 102 comments Emma wrote: "It has been a long time since I've read this book, but I also loved it. I didn't think of him as whiny, per se, I just went along with it open minded and just had to laugh at the way he spoke so of..."

I love Salinger's work. Though he does not have that much that has been published. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction I think is a great book. It is a pair of stories about the Glass faily who show up in a lot of his other works.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I am new to the group and very late to this discussion but even so I want to add my comments.

Count me in the camp that loves this book. I find Holden to be a very likable kid. Salinger did a good job putting us into his mind.

When I read reviews about this book I see a lot about teen angst. There is that but in my humble opinion I feel the bigger picture is missed. For me this story is about a kid that is depressed. Not the blues, not just a negative pessimistic attitude but true depression. Thinking back on the story I see many signs of it. And when we learn where the title of the book comes from, Holden wanting to be a catching in the rye, there to save the children from the cliff and knowing that Holden's little brother died, I feel that this book is about his grief and depression (possibly guilt) over the loss of his brother.


message 10: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) | 9712 comments Mod
Nice to hear from you Greg. I am glad to see that you love this book. I hadn't thought of the novel that way, but I have to agree with you. Thanks for you comments.

And it is never too late for a book read. All threads stay open.


Tulika (yuvaine) What I liked about this book was the 'Catcher in the rye' part and associating it with depression, because that's what a lot of people who are going through it need - an anchor to life and it was pretty neat that Holden wanted to be that(as message 9 points out).

While I was reading through opinions about the book, I came across one where people think of Holden as an irritating(or loathsome) kid and still like the book. What I don't understand is how anyone can like a book with a protagonist they don't relate to at all or don't admire even a little. For me it's the deciding factor, specially in a book which is focused entirely on its characters. Do you guys have any thoughts on this?


Karen Tulika wrote: ""

Maybe because while at the same time they find Holden irritating, or even loathsome, they still find him funny, insightful, smart- and know that he is certainly struggling with depression and anxiety- a lot of it due to his brothers death.



Karen deleted user wrote: "I am new to the group and very late to this discussion but even so I want to add my comments.

Count me in the camp that loves this book. I find Holden to be a very likable kid. Salinger did a good..."


I agree with this


message 14: by Nargus (last edited Jun 07, 2016 05:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nargus | 567 comments I thought this book was amazing. I really did. Okay, I think I did enough horsing around in my review - but the reason I did it was it was the voice that I found so amazing (not to make fun of him!).

The voice definitely drew me in. The voice, the voice, the voice. I know this sounds cliche, but for want of a better word, it was so down-to-earth ... or maybe I could best describe as not phony! JD Salinger nailed it!

I found myself chuckling in the beginning and really liking the character. In the beginning, he describes stuff as phony, and you tend to agree with him.

Then it got to a point where I was like, okay ... so much hate. Apparently everyone is phony.

That's where I thought, okay, people can either hate him or love him. But that's when he starts to reveal his inner turmoil more so - which you can appreciate earlier on, but not so obviously - when he reveals it in such a vulnerable way - to the people around him, who couldn't care less. He's so lonely. For a good amount of days, all he does was meet up with people he doesn't care about and bum around in the meantime.

But there are people he cares about. His brother, his sister, his mother, and others. And I really loved how we came to understand the title - "the catcher in the rye". It really shows the kind of guy he is, who CARES too much. This aspect of his sensitivity is a positive thing, but it may also be his weakness. He feels sorry for people because he's so sensitive, even when it seems snobbish - like when he feels sorry for the guy with the less expensive suitcase.

I loved the ending. His sister Phoebe is amazing, and his love for her is as well. Just having that one person to connect to, can make a big difference - no matter who it is, even if it is your little sister.


message 15: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob | 5017 comments Mod
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is our February 2018 Reread, this is the Spoiler Tread.


message 16: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - added it

Katy (kathy_h) | 9712 comments Mod
Just a tidbit of information: Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States.


Joseph Fountain | 293 comments This book killed me if you want to know the truth; it really did. It reminded me of a book I read a long time ago, I can’t remember the name, but it was the sort of book that makes you feel like crying half the time, and laughing half the time, and then just sort of puking the rest of the time. I’m always reading these books that make me want to cry and laugh and puke. It’s depressing if you want to know the truth. It really is.

Sorry...couldn't resist.

I've read this twice. I hated it the first time. I liked it quite a bit more the next time. I would have liked to reread it now (sorry, just too many things queued up right now), but I have a strong suspicion that I will like it much more the next time.

First, I think this book will resonate with anyone who was angsty as a teen. That's most teens right? Which, I think, accounts for its popularity...and also why I didn't care for it much. I was pretty chill as a teen.

Second, my first read, I don't think I ever got over disliking Holden. I've read a lot of classic lit since I first read The Catcher in the Rye, and I've learned I can dislike the main character, and still like the book.

Phoebe is great...and Holden's love for Phoebe is one of his most endearing attributes.

Anyone NOT of the opinion that Holden is narrating to a Psychiatrist of some other Doctor, i.e. that he is being treated by mental health professionals?

My blog review: http://100greatestnovelsofalltimeques...


April Munday | 277 comments Joseph wrote: "This book killed me if you want to know the truth; it really did. It reminded me of a book I read a long time ago, I can’t remember the name, but it was the sort of book that makes you feel like cr..."

I hope he is narrating it to a psychiatrist. Almost from the beginning I wondered why he'd been sent away to school rather than to a psychiatrist.


message 19: by Rosemarie (last edited Feb 11, 2018 10:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 1579 comments I thought the parents didn't understand their son. Instead of helping him, they kept sending him away to another school.
What he needed was some unconditional love from his parents, who should have realized how important the brother was for Holden. Good thing he had Phoebe in his life.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Holden Caulfield, the original over-thinker.

This was my review. "Funny how your view of a book can change over the years. I read this many decades ago and my memory of Holden Caulfield was of a charming smart-alec who skewered all the pretentious people he encountered as he moved through life. This time I felt differently. I was sad for him. All the cleverness, and the judgmental stance he insisted on, were a very poor trade-off for the misery he caused himself and all the things he lost. There's a scene that didn't make much of an impression on me the first time, where Holden talks about the museum he loved when he was a kid. The museum stays the same, but when we come back to it, we are different people than we were on our previous visit, and we bring different things with us. Same with a great book I guess."


April Munday | 277 comments Doug wrote: "Holden Caulfield, the original over-thinker.

This was my review. "Funny how your view of a book can change over the years. I read this many decades ago and my memory of Holden Caulfield was of a ..."


He is a bit of a lost boy, isn't he? The only way I can excuse his parents is by reminding myself that they had lost a son and probably couldn't cope with Holden as well as with their grief. Although, after three schools you'd think they'd begin to put two and two together.


Shauna | 32 comments I knew lots of kids like this growing up. It makes me kind of sad. I agree that Holden's love for Phoebe is his most endearing quality.

This might be a little strange, but I feel like I am reading a rendition of "It's a Crummy Life" complete with Jimmy Stewart. It has something to do with the way the dialogue is written, I think.


Cami  | 42 comments I LOVED this book. I had so much empathy for Holden. I did not find him whiny or pessimistic. To me, he was very hurt and confused and depressed. It is clear he was struggling, but he had such a good heart. There were several signs that he may be suffering from depression or anxiety or both. Perhaps mostly from the loss of his beloved brother, Allie. But it sounds like he may have also been sexually abused too, or came close to being.
Regardless, Salinger wrote Holden so well that he felt real and I wanted someone to genuinely take an interest in him and help him. He kept reaching out to so many people, and they either disregarded him, or disappointed him.
My heart broke for Holden.


Rosemarie | 1579 comments Holden certainly did get a raw deal out of life.


Rivalic | 30 comments You know what really irks me about this book? The writing style of the character, Holden is so sporadic when he talks. He goes off on a tangent about something then starts talking about another. I couldn't stand the main character, and I felt the story really didn't go anywhere. I mean we know he's in a hospital in the beginning, but in the end he's just watching his sister ride the carousel. He says he's too tired to tell us why he was put there. Oh my god! I just sat here forever reading this and then you won't even tell me! At least there could be something there at the end, but no. I frankly didn't like this book whatsoever. Holden was annoying, and the situations he got into were unbelievable.


message 26: by Liza (new) - rated it 2 stars

Liza Tishchenko (thames_nocturne) | 27 comments I found the novel much more interesting after reading Salinger's biography. Holden is a character who was quite thoroughly dragged through the horrors of WWII along with his creator - if not in plot, then in his emotional/mental state. Salinger wrote quite a bit of what would later become Catcher during the war, and much of his own thinking at the time was mediated through this fictional character. So I find it helps to consider this lens of thinking about the novel at moments when its emotional tone gets especially puzzling.


message 27: by Jehona (last edited Feb 23, 2018 01:01PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jehona | 182 comments I didn't hate it, but I was extremely bored. This kid is supposed to be insightful, but are we supposed to believe that the biggest problems a teenager faced in 1950s America were boring classmates and parents who are somewhat absent from the life of their problem child while grieving for the one who died? I don't even see his parents as trying to make him obey strict rules. All they expect from him is to get passing grades. They have different religions, so he has total freedom to chose any religion or even atheism. His parents are rich, so he doesn't have to make compromises. He's not gay or any minority. He's not a girl (at some point he describes something that sounds like sexual assault perpetrated by his roommate, but instead of the victim getting assaulted we are supposed to feel sorry for Holden for having such a nasty roommate). His problem is not having problems.


April Munday | 277 comments Jehona wrote: "I didn't hate it, but I was extremely bored. This kid is supposed to be insightful, but are we supposed to believe that the biggest problems a teenager faced in 1950s America were boring classmates..."

He does have problems, though. The brother he loved died. Another brother he loved has become a different person and he's been sent away from home, where the other person he loves lives. He probably loves his parents as well, but he might not realise it. In one of his schools a boy was bullied so much that he killed himself, whilst wearing Holden's sweater, which can't have done holden any good. He's been assaulted sexually, possibly more than once. One of the few adults he trusts turns out to be a paedophile. He's probably been beaten up more than once. How else could he know that he can't fight? It's a wonder he gets to the end of the book still liking anyone.


Petrichor | 300 comments Count me to the did-not-like group of people.
If you are interested, here is my review from half a year ago.


message 30: by Suki (new) - rated it 3 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 77 comments I didn't like Holden at all-- he made me feel very irritated and impatient with him, but I did feel very sorry for him. He is obviously very depressed over the loss of his brother, and he acts up like a child desperate for attention. Maybe his parents kind of shut down after Allie died. His negative outlook got very grating after a while.

I read that Salinger started writing the book when he was a soldier in WWII, and he was hospitalized for depression when he got home. Holden may be a manifestation of his PTSD.

Near the end of the book, we learn the meaning of the title, where Holden wants to be "the catcher in the rye" who saves all those little kids from falling over the cliff to their deaths. I'm no psychiatrist, but I would think that this reveals some anxiety, maybe even survivor's guilt, over his brother's death. It is also the only time in the whole novel that I find him to be truly likeable. It's as if we are given a peek under his cloud of gloom and see the real person.

The really strange thing about Catcher in the Rye is its association with a number of serial killers and conspiracy theories, such as parts of the book being written to trigger murderous sleeper agents. (The fact that chapters 3-7 were originally a short story called 'The Boy in the People Shooting Hat' probably doesn't help much.) This is a link to one of the articles, it's pretty bizarre:
https://morcanbooksandfilms.com/2014/...


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