Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye

 This novel has been among those books which go on to achieve the title of being the ‘cult’ thing. A rage among youngsters, especially the ones in their teens, The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger has been a cult novel among this age group ever since its release in the 1950’s.
 The story revolves around Holden Caulfield, a teenager who has been expelled from high school for repeated failure in academics. The experiences during the journey that he takes to go back to his home in New York, from his school, makes up for the premise. The book’s popularity lies in the strong connection that its protagonist establishes with every collegian his age. Standing at the threshold of adolescence, Holden’s confusion, angst, identity crisis, sexual tension and loneliness presents a reflection of every young mind.
 His immense fear of entering ‘the superficial and hypocritical’ world of adulthood, leaving behind the ‘innocence’ of childhood, and his tendency to look down upon and be judgemental towards everyone and everything around him due to this fear, echoes the sentiments of countless adolescents from different cultures and backgrounds. Apart from the familiarity of the subject, what I think connects this novel with almost every youngster is the style in which it is written. Being a first person narrative by Holden, the story is told from his point of view and thus, consists of the typical slang language and a heavy dose of swear words used by youngsters. Fuelling controversy over its abusive language, there was even a ban on the sales of the book for a brief period of time.
 But ultimately the beauty of The Catcher… is undoubtedly its language and also the deep insight with which the central character is explored. One of the aspects about Holden that you can identify the most is the way he uses his self-imposed isolation as a means of self-protection. He not only hates coming close to any of his classmates or teachers in school but also severely criticises them. He makes deliberate attempts of distancing himself from everyone but at the same time, reveals a desperate need of having someone by his side throughout the book.
 This conflict in his thought and action is captured wonderfully. Also Holden’s condescending attitude towards every person he comes across generates a good amount of sarcasm and humour in the novel. It’s a fun read, which entertains along with deriving meaning from every joke that Holden cracks.


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