The Catcher in the Rye: A Distressingly Depressing Delightful Novel


The theme of this blog is turning into this: “Keith reads novels by world-renowned reclusive authors!” This was hardly the purpose, originally, but I am going with the flow. Soon I will simply dedicate my life to finding a snapshot of Thomas Pynchon and scaling the wall that J.D. Salinger built around his home to keep people out.

Anyway, on to The Catcher in the Rye.

I’m not sure there is a more surly yet lovable character in all of fiction than Holden Caulfield. He is downright despicable at times in his absolute derision of every single person who is not his brother or his sister. The only person outside of his family who he seems to be not only okay with, but absolutely in love with is his childhood friend Jane Gallagher. In many ways a reader can find his or her self in total agreement with everything Caulfield says about the people he interacts with, but this is to toe a dangerous line. The people he is surrounded by are completely ordinary and therein lies the danger of agreeing with Caulfield about everything. Generally speaking if you are Holden Caulfield you are probably the most miserable person alive, whether you know it or not. The climax of the novel, which I will not spoil, is simply one of the most sobering passages in fiction.

While at the beginning of the novel, you find yourself in agreement with Caulfield, laughing at people, enjoying every word of his stories, giggling at the absolutely perfect way he can describe a person, there comes a point in the book where the things that once made you laugh, rip at your soul just a little bit. Instead of looking forward to what Caulfield does next, you find yourself praying to God he does not get himself killed, or even praying that he does not want to kill himself. All his jokes turn sour, even though the style in which he delivers them and the observations he is making have not changed. In the end, you root for Holden even more than you did from the beginning simply because you must. You will not be Holden Caulfield. Holden Caulfield does not deserve to be Holden Caulfield. No one deserves to be Holden Caulfield.

This little post makes much more sense upon having read the book, so here’s to hoping those who haven’t read the novel do so quickly.

Recommended to: Those who have soured on the human race, those who need a reminder that life can hand you something equivalent to drawing two of the letter “U” and five of the letter “I” in Scrabble, and those who have fallen out of touch with their ability to feel.

Avoid as if it were a free screening of M. Night Shyamalan’s Avatar: The Last Airbender: Those who demand people say “Gosh dang” as a go to expletive (You will DESPISE this book).

Also, a neat drawing by Ghostyheart on DeviantArt



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