The Catcher in the Rye Part 1 Again

I never really said anything when I wrote my first two so-called reviews, so this time I’ll put a little more thought into it.

I don’t consider the book anything special. J.D. Salinger was not the first to write using the stream of consciousness-style narrative. He did not create the style. This means you can’t quite completely praise it for the original writing style. The book contains slang that a kid would use. So what? Is that supposed to be original and ground-breaking? Writing down what kids always use? Slang is a type of dialect for younger humans. Mark Twain was writing in different dialects long before Salinger.

In my opinion, I found the character to be whiny, not insightful. Just because he’s constantly depressed and a cynic doesn’t mean he represents a side of all of us. If there was a character who was completely happy, does that mean that he represents the happy side in all of us? Personally, I can’t relate to the character. Look at the origin of the title. He wants to preserve the innocence of children. I don’t like children. I don’t value innocence because it relates too much to ignorance.

Holden is not merely depressed because of the way the world is. He is depressed because his brother died. He praised Allie so much in the book. He wonders why Allie had to die, when Allie was so much better than himself. Again, I can’t quite relate to this.

I didn’t like the plot of the story, or lack thereof. I didn’t feel as if they were important. You can take out certain individual events and they have no effect whatsoever as to the progress of the story. I like action, rather than unimportant thought processes. That’s my opinion. I’ve expressed this opinion before when I said I don’t like writing about what I do in the day because I find it boring. I didn’t do anything exciting. Now, I know Holden gets beat up by a prostitute’s boss, but I still didn’t find it too exciting. The lack of purpose in the plot is exacerbated by a weak ending that doesn’t truly resolve, or give meaning to, the book.

Reiterating the valuing of actions over words, I’ll say that, as my personal preference, I did not like the book’s narrative style. Perhaps it’s a result of the years of drilling “show-not-tell” into my head from school. Perhaps it’s a result of the American shoot-em-up, bang-bang action culture.

Then again, you can still have action and delve deep into emotions. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (a book I enjoyed), deals with morality, yet has more “adventure” than The Catcher in the Rye. The Catcher in the Rye isn’t the final word on adolescence and cynicism.

Since I’m rather a cynic myself, maybe that’s why I didn’t find the book as funny as some people. Some observations are like my own. They aren’t anything new. Still, I find that the character meanders in his articulated thoughts, never making a point, which is different from my thinking style. I like to think in terms of cause and effect. So, there’s another point in which I can’t relate to the main character.

Just because a book decides to touch on those issues and has a touch of cynicism doesn’t make it an instant classic. I went too far in saying that I could write something similar, but compared to the plethora of books I have read, it didn’t rank well.

Maybe I’ll write a part 2, not sure.

5 thoughts on “The Catcher in the Rye Part 1 Again

  1. s evans

    Can you claim a book is not a classic just because you didn’t like it – seems a little subjective. I did not like the book but am glad I read it and would agree to it’s ‘classic’ status.

    This is a journey of a few days inside the head of someone who has serious mental issues. The way the language conjures a picture of the odd guy you avoid talking to, the jumbled nature of Holdens thoughts and his inability to hold a subject are all part of this. The fact it makes you want to scream and beat some sense into it are a great achievement by the author. I have read few books that so easily made me feel like I was looking over someones shoulder into their life – despite the fact that their life was so frustrating.

    To my mind, a book that challenges our thinking in this way and conjures such clear imagery half a century on is more deserving of classic status than yet another period romance that explores no further than the interplay of the hero and heroines love at an endless series of dinner parties.

  2. mark langill

    how can you call this book a classic when it drove someone to literally kill someone else? and I’ve read the book and I totally agree with the review. On another note, I just can’t see how a book about a kid who grows up to be a physco path can relate to kids these days?

  3. Hannah

    I don’t agree with Ludz. I feel the same way as S. Evans and I can’t understand the neccessity for some people to tear down the works of others, especially when they seem to be such shallow thinkers that they cannot even understand the psychological state that this person is in. He is not a psycho path and I feel that calling a person with a psychological disorder a psycho path is just one more example of how ignorant some people are. I sympathize with your lack of education- Really I don’t.

  4. Anonymous

    I read it this (at the angst filled age of 14) and still thought it was absolute shit. The most dissappointing thing about the book however, was that the stupid kid didnt die in the end. I could write a better book than that for petes sake!
    please. ive had my share of depression and angst but this is just the whinings of a stupid kid who thinks he can own the world.

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