Sunday, February 7, 2010
'The Catcher in the Rye'-Review
Length: 192 Pages
Opening Line: 'If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.'
'The Catcher in the Rye' is a book which has been discussed and argued about since its release in the 1940's. However it has achieved cult status in American Literature and is a classic, even now.
It centres on the character Holden Caulfield, who is expelled from the latest of a succession of schools and the book focuses on his journey through the streets of New York.
Having read this book a second time, I realised that I had not appreciated how multi-faceted this book actually is. The writer J.D Salinger describes the backdrop of New York wonderfully, combined with the first person perspective that the book is written in, he really draws the reader into the story. You could believe that you are reading something from the diary of a real person, rather than a fictional one.
At the beginning of the book, I was quite irritated by the main character Holden. His endless repetitions, constant habit of 'sort of doing things' and starting to do things but failing to, because he didn't feel like it, became exasperating. However, throughout the book I came to see him for more than just someone arrogant and annoying.
I think that he gives a good insight into someone who is going through a mental breakdown and he also represents the struggles, insecurities and in decisions of the teenage generation. Holden perceives himself as worldly wise and mature, but he has the same confusion about life and sexuality, as any teenager. So although on the surface he is an unlikable character, it's what he represents that is most important in my opinion. Also you could argue, that if a writer can provoke emotions of either like or hate for one of his or her characters, then they must be doing their job properly. After all, writers are only playing with words on a page.
Overall, my experience whilst reading this book was a bit of a roller coaster, one minute I didn't like the book, the next I did. However, I feel that this is one of the most interesting books that I have read in a long time.
So even if you end up loving or hating Holden Caulfield, this book is definitely a thought provoking read.