The Catcher In The Rye

I took a lazy read in the snow-reflected morning sunshine to finish "The Catcher In The Rye." It's J.D. Salinger's novel of misdirected youth. The novel is the first person narrative of Holden Caulfield. Who's just been kicked out of another boys school.

Set in the 1940s. The book covers his floundering quest of discovery in the few days after getting kicked out of Pencey before return home to his parents. You see, he's left Pencey where he's only passing english with the $300 his doting wealth grandmother has sent him.

He decides he's going to go into New York and have a good time. He's too young to drink but his height and the gray hairs on his head generally get him served.

The book is about an smart person with no brains. Holden is intelligent and sensitive, but shallow thinking. Many of his statements are contradictory. His tempers turn on a dime. His whims are in the moment and don't generally see through to completion. It's very evocative of angst and adolescence. I felt like a high school counseler reading about somebody who "wasn't applying themselves."

The writing style was wierd. There were long paragraphs (pages) that were Holden's internal dialogue's comprised of terse often-conlicting statements.

I appreciated much of the outlook in the book. One quote pertaining to thespians and histrionics left me rolling on the floor.

I used to think she was quite intelligent in my stupidity. The reason I did was because she knew quite a lot about the theater and plays and literature and all that stuff. If somebody knows quite a lot about those things, then it takes you quite a while to find out whether they're really stupid or not.
I also love the part where he finds a "fuck you" everywhere when he's feeling sensitive.
[...]But while I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody'd written "Fuck you" on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them - all cockeyed, naturally-what it meant, and how they'd all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days.[...]

[...]I went down by a different staircase, and I saw another "Fuck you" on the wall. I tried to rub it off with my hand again, but this one was scratched on, with a knife or something. It wouldn't come off. It's hopeless, anyway. If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the "Fuck you" sings in the world. It's impossible.

[...]That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak and write "fuck you" right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it'll say "Holden Caulfield" on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it'll say "Fuck you." I'm positive, in fact.

The book's titled "The Catcher In The Rye", because Holden dreams himself in a rye field with children frolicking. He stands next to the adjacent cliff and keeps them from falling off. Catcher in the Rye. Get it? I still don't understand the theme. It was honest, funny, stupid, and sad.