I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. I had a very merry Christmas with family, presents, and plenty of candy. Today’s post examines another classic! This is one of those novels I often saw referenced but hadn’t read until recently. Stay tuned if you’d like to know more about this classic and the infamous Holden Caulfield!
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, retroactively narrates a brief period right before Christmas one year (though he is still young while looking back on it all). The period he relays spans his getting kicked out of school (which had happened several times already) and the adventures he has while wandering the snowy NY streets before he returns home. The novel itself is an easy read, which of course appeals to a broad audience. Holden is charming both as a narrator and a character. His nonchalantly sarcastic narrative form with the occasional peppering of reflexive wisdom makes the story entertaining while adding a slight amount of self-consciousness. Holden is such a likable protagonist because he’s spontaneous yet down-to-earth; he’s adventurous and enticing, but above all, he’s genuine.
The novel attracts adults and teens alike who experience/remember feelings of existential angst and alienation. Some view the novel as a response to conservatism in the 1950’s. The novel almost didn’t get published, as Salinger presented the novel to multiple publishers who rejected him including the newspaper The New Yorker. This awesome five minute video delves deeper into that story. Sources vary on declaring the year it was most banned or how often it’s been banned, but this NYT article from 1989 demonstrates just one instance of a school censoring The Catcher in the Rye. Despite enduring criticism against its obscenity, the novel was popular then and remains so. It’s been translated to many languages, which is intriguing due to its reliance on a specific vernacular (1950’s adolescent).
What did you think of this novel? Is it overrated or awesome? Thanks for reading!