The Catcher In The Rye

A monologue by a 16-year-old who acts like a 16-year old.

Does the book deserve its celebrity? Or is it famous for being famous?

I must say I didn’t care at all for the book. But I have to admit, I seem to be in vast minority. To me the book says something and that something was unique for the time it was published.

I think it got famous and remains so because as the OP said, it is famous.

It’s readable and I wouldn’t say to anyone, “don’t waste your time,” 'cause the book is good, I just don’t think it lives up to its hype

The book iteslf isn’t a bad read, but the character is such an annoying little pissant that I just want to smack him. And each time I re-read it, I want to smack him harder.

Amen. I read this for Honors English back in the Paleozoic. Perhaps the greatest insult I have ever received was from my peer reviewer: “Stu must really have a great love for this character!”

The first time I read it (YEARS ago) I thought the same thing, highly over-rated. But I re-read it about two months ago and it was a great read. I actually chuckled out loud a few times. I don’t like the character at all, he he is well written and maintains his ‘voice’ quite well through out the book.

When I read CITR at 15, I deeply identified with Holden, and adored the book. Flipping through it today, not so much, but I still think that it’s a great novel that accurately and honestly depicts a confused, depressed, angry teenager. It doesn’t feel especially dated, unlike most of the books I’ve read from that era.

When I read it in high school I thought the kid was an annoying little schmuck, but by the end of the book I felt like I “got him”. Nowadays however, I try re-reading it and I don’t see it anymore. The desire to smack him is there. But for its time and the age I read him at it really impacted me somehow.

Read it at 16 and it spoke to me at that age like no other book we were assigned in high school. It depicts that confused, wistful adolescent age and has a sort of hopeful ending without being preachy or overly saccharine.

Read it again at 21 and hated the guy. What a little tool! But, maybe we are all tools at some point. Apart from anything else I am very impressed that an adult could write as a teenager so convincingly.

I was too old when I started it (36 and a parent) to appreciate it. I looked at the time a job and parenthood left me and weighed it against a futile desire to knock Holden Caulfield upside his head, completely UNtempered because I was a whiny bitch when I was 17, and tossed it into the “the used book store will give me two bits” pile. As my children and, worse, their friends grew older the desire to smack them by proxy has grown.

I read it at 15 or 16, and couldn’t relate to Holden at all: I had a job and was paying taxes, dammit! :stuck_out_tongue: I didn’t want to hit him or anything, I just thought he was crazy. I came away thinking he needed to “walk it off”, “suck it up”. But it was the 90’s, and by my NJ teen experience, no one could give two shits about my problems, so Caulfield could go screw.

I read it in my late teens and fully expected to enjoy a book about an angsty kid because I was the same. Echoing the above, I thought Holden was a whiny little douche.

No… Read it again… this time thinking in the voice of an old drunk. The Catcher in the Rye is actually the monologue of an old drunkard posing as a 16 year old. My husband would read this book aloud in such a voice while our daughter was studying the book in school… Believe me that’s the way it was meant to be interpreted!!

“I ordered a gin, but the son of a bitch wouldn’t bring it to me!”


It got a lot of praise (and a lot of criticism) when it was first published, and it was one of the most frequently banned books of the second half of the 20th Century, and it’s atached to the whole Salinger mystique. That argues for the “famous because it’s famous” point of view.

On the other hand, IMHO it’s an exceedingly well written book – despite Holden’s general pissantedness – and worthy of at least a measure of its fame.

Read it about 8 times in school, hated Holden. Hated hated hated him. Didn’t identify at all and thought it was a horrible book…

1984, Cuckoos Next, Mice and Men - loved them all though.

As an aside - the book was supposed to be set in the 60’s right? I think the acutal year (according to sime clues from Holden) was 1959

I thought the book perfectly captured a character. The fact that one likes him or not, identifies with him or not, is irrelevant to me. I love plenty of books with characters I hate or completely cannot identify with (see, for example, Ignatius J. Reilly in Confederacy of Dunces.) I think it’s a great book, well-crafted and written, and written from the point of view of a believable, but perhaps somewhat irritating, character. I haven’t read it since freshman year college (the third time I read it) and, while I never was an angsty teenager by any stretch of the imagination, there was a certain truth and beauty in the book I’ve always appreciated.

I haven’t read it since high school, but back then, I read it SEVEN times! I thought the book was brilliant - for me, it captured the mood of “WTF” and at the same time, gave me hope that others felt like I did at that age.

I should probably pick up the book and read it now, but all I can tell you is that as a kid in the 60’s who read it for school, it was one of the first books I “had to read” that I really, really liked a lot.

Actually, it’s set around Christmas time of 1949 or 1950. Holden mentions recently seeing (and hating) the Cary Grant movie I Was a Male War Bride which was released in 1949. Also, some of the slang used (e.g., the use of “flit” for homosexual) would’ve been well-past expiration date by 1960.

Read most of it, could never get through it all for some reason, actually thinking of buying it cheap one of these days.

I identified with the Holden Caufield. He laid it on a little thick sometimes, but it’s no different from what I or a billion other teenagers have been through. I firmly believed then (and still do) that cynicism just means that you’re paying attention. Most importantly, he honestly wants to make the world a better place, even if he’s nearly powerless to do so.

Aside from that, it’s just a really good story. Make no mistake, it’s remarkable when a classic can actually hold my interest, let alone make me consider buying it.

And there are about several hundred fictional characters I’d like to pound the crap out of more than Holden.

I found it to be the worst of Salinger’s 4 books, one of which is a collection of short stories… his various publications in the New Yorker appeared to be character development of Holden, which was ultimately a build-up to his study of the Glass family…

I read it in high school, and hated it. I hated it so much that I’ve never read it since. Perhaps I should pick it up and give it another chance.

Part of the reason I hated it - and this is totally petty, I know - was Salinger’s choice in spelling “crummy.” He spelled in with a B, like “crumby.” I constantly misread this as “crumbly.” Constantly. And I’d have to go back and correct myself. I hated the character so much and this alternate spelling just didn’t help matters.

Lord, I hated that crumbly book.