CATCHER IN THE RYE – J.D. SALINGER

The first time this book raised interest in me is when it was mentioned in the movie Conspiracy Theory (with Mel Gibson played as main actor). Thus, I am wondering why a New York taxi driver, who always has his own explanations for every events occurred on the news related to interference from government, is obsessed with buying a copy of the Catcher in the Rye every time he found one. Recently, I have a chance to find the answer on my own. 


WARNING:  This review is full of spoilers. In case you want to know a brief opinion of myself about the content, you could skip the summary part right below.


The story began with Holden Caulfield received  his latest expulsion from Pencey Prep, a school in Pennsylvania. If it works as in soccer, then he could celebrate this hat trick with friends. Unfortunately, even though he felt cool with that, the fear could not be hidden from his careless mind. To be clear, he would not fear to be away from this school: he has no best friends, and in fact he hate this place with its phony people. He only worried that his mom could not stand the news on the next Tuesday, when letter from school would reach his home in New York, right on Christmas holiday. The plan was staying in campus until the judgement day,  then went home and faced it like the previous two. However, he got into a fight with his roommate, which leaded to his decision to catch midnight train straight back to New York. Along with that is a sequence of recalls about his old friends, intelligent teacher, two talented brothers, smart little sister, and his desperate mom.

Being struggled in New York for two days in a row, hungry and exhausted, he suddenly think that school was no place for him, thus he would leave home without saying one word, go to the West, find a job there (no matter what it is), live a peaceful life and spend time teaching his children about English Literature. On the final day, his little sister Phoebe changed his mind one more time with her innocence and cleverness of a kid at her age. The character kept living his life, found a new school and welcomed whatever in the future waiting for him.


To be honest, it took me an enormous effort to read until the last page. Thing that motivates me is its mentioning in above movie,  and that is it, nothing else. Yet to be fair, I found final chapters to be emotional and saved the whole book. It likes I became the character myself, such that I started to hate this book. The thing cannot be bypassed, is the chosen view to tell the story of author, which makes him must be consistent with the mind of a teenager. Thus, the grammar is annoying with a lot of swear words and duplication, which easily turns down any reader love beautifully picked words. Besides this margin effect in writing style, character’s life is quite interesting with not too much meaningful things, but enough to convince ourselves we also used to be in similar scenarios. Furthermore, the real reflection in human behaviors are captured perfectly, which we have no doubt it should be so if it truly did happen. You will not have any suspicions in your mind when character suddenly cried before his sister when she gave him all her saving for Christmas. That is the thing I love here, by calling everyone phonies, main character proved to be a most valuable person, do nothing to make himself better than he actually is.

To prevent any misleading here, Holden is not a naughty  kid. He is good at English. He knows what he loves and what he hates. The problem is, his hatred dominates anything else in this world, even being punched in the face multiple times, he would not compromise to what he hates. He is not Christian, but he is willing to donate his money for charity because he feel it is the right thing he wants to do. He is also a teenager, so he acts like one. His mind changes like a chameleon to satisfy any combustible ideas he could think of, without considering carefully its consequences.

Thing makes Holder different from other kid, is this boy having a skeptical eyes about what people did and do, thus decided himself who he wants to hangout with and who do not. In most of the cases, people were phonies and it made him uncomfortable to be surrounded by them. This pessimistic view was the reason he did not follow instructions in class to get passing grade, nor he felt no regret leaving school. Strangely, by also the same thing, it makes me feel this is an appropriate book for teenagers to read when they have burden in school and life, because it would give them courage to face, and more importantly, the reason why. It is interpreted via intellectual advises from Mr. Antolini, teacher in old high school of Holden to him: People should give chance for what they hate, and by doing so, we can extract the beauty in it, even if the hatred still exists.

I promised myself I would not read any review about this book before finishing this post. Nothing would be changed to fix other’s opinion, or change in perspective if years later I reread it. Overall, this book is above average a little bit, and may require prior knowledge about the life in America to truly understanding the message of it. One thing I was not satisfied is that beside the common things that they happen in New York, I see no relationship between this book and Conspiracy Theory movie.

To end this  post here, I tried to copy-cat the writing style of author to tell about my day today, and gave you a demonstration for what I had “suffered” (no offense) to finish the book.

Today I had to wake up early than usual to have a goddamn appointment. I later had to finish another goddamn project for two damn classes. I can barely sleep last night. It does not matter why, but it is because I drunk five tons of energy drinks, if you want to know the truth. I walk passed many people on the street. I sort of caught some girls running on street, and they are cute as hell. That killed me, I tell you.

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