Reviews of Catcher in the Rye, the (1951)
Review by enderwiggin (2009-09-11)
Lasting for many years as a symbol of teenage rebellion in American literature, J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye has been banned in many locations because of its ample amount of profanity, smoking, and drinking, as well as some other mature content. While banning may be a way to keep children's minds pure of these vile actions, it is a shame that such an outstanding book should ever be restricted.
The short novel begins with Holden Caulfield, the protagonist and anti-hero of the novel talking to the reader with a very unique talking style: "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of c***, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They're quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They're nice and all--I'm not saying that--but they're also touchy as h***. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my g***** autobiography or anything. I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy."
Caulfield is attending a private school, Pencey Prep, in Pennsylvania. About a week before Christmas break begins, Caulfield is told that his grades are too low (he is failing all his classes except for English), and that he cannot return to Pencey the following term. Besides being slightly worried about what his parents might think of his expulsion, Caulfield is hardly perturbed about it. He figures that instead of spending his last few days at Pencey actually at Pencey, he should leave. And that is what he does.
The novel follows Caulfield's ventures back to New York, while rebelling against society. There is not very much action at all. But what the novel lacks in plot, Salinger makes up for in commentary. The way Caulfield talks to the reader and then goes off on several tangents to speak about his past at Pencey and before is delighting. Caulfield, while being the protagonist of the novel, is a very difficult character to like, with all his complaints, profanity, and talk about alcohol, smoking, and girls. But he has become one of the most well-known characters in literary history, probably because his personality is atrocious but believable. Only a few would not be able to relate with Caulfield at all.
The Catcher in the Rye is an extraordinary work of art. Any reader should read this when they are at a mature age. It is only a shame that Salinger did not write more books (he only wrote four), because, if they had been as excellent and successful as this one, they would be fine novels indeed.
Review by tilkic (2009-07-29)
"Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right--I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game."
This is the best description of life ever which has been written by a human being. Thank you Salinger.
(This review refers to the 1951 version titled “Catcher in the Rye, the”)
Review by discuschick (2007-05-14)
A lot of kids in my class do NOT like Catcher in the Rye. (I beg to differ.) They all preferred The Great Gatsby, which I personally found to contain some unrealistic characters. In my opinion, the Catcher in the Rye is an honest book. I guess some people don't like it because of its honesty and its realism. Many people think it's "boring," but if you think about it, the stuff that happens to Holden would be pretty interesting if it happened to YOU, or to one of your friends.
Let's say your friend was telling you this story. You'd never tell him/her that their story is boring -- it would be as interesting as almost anything that could happen realistically to a teenager. So can people get over how "boring" it is? I believe Salinger used realistic situations to paint a realistic, believable character. So if you want to read sci-fi, go right ahead. (Nothing against sci-fi, by the way.) This book isn't a thriller, nor is it plot-driven, nor was it ever intended to be that way. It was intended to be a frank portrayal, and such a portrayal needs believable, tame situations.
Review by popo (2006-03-19)
For those people who think the character in this book is annoying: good! You are reading below the surface. Holden's character is supposed to reflect a young mentality, which is filled with unconscious hypocrisy, feelings of specialness and idealization of childhood. Even if you hate the characters and the theme, you must admit that it is very well written and covers its characters well. Personally, I think Salinger wrote it as self-worship while consciously aware that what he was writing was self-worship, and this knowledge is what sets Catcher in the Rye apart from other stories about young people.
But if I meet another angsty teenager speaking like Holden I'm going to scream and escape to a forest.
Review by brendan62442 (2004-11-06)
"It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors."
J.D. Salinger has created an incredible piece of art. To those of you who hate it, you are fully intended to hate it.
Review by Zacynthus (2004-09-19)
I am one of the few people in this world that really does not like this book. I think it is inane and pointless. While it may be a great portrait of youth that fact does not make it any less boring.
Review by Jago360 (2004-04-04)
So I finally read this book that I've heard so much about. "Timeless classic" I've heard, and "greatest book ever." I can't agree...while it's definitely good, and worth reading, I can't see why it's regarded SO highly by the majority of the people I've heard comment on it (not just on this site). By the way, I'm 18, so I'm not criticizing the book because I'm too old to "get" it.
My main obstacle in liking "The Catcher in the Rye" is Holden himself. Maybe he's a realistic portrait of adolescence, but that doesn't necessarily translate to great literature: Salinger's protagonist is so prejudiced and flat-out whiny that he's often hard to like. I have to say, though, that the ending - while not initially very impressive - is very good. It doesn't trivialize Holden's problems or society's effect on youth in general, and it's not a cop-out (which would have been easy to write).
It must be said: the story behind the name of the book is horribly lame. Yes, I see the significance, and yes, it's still inane.
Review by hammer587 (2003-08-18)
I agree most with what Tamarah's review has already said. Holden is lost and not even bothered with searching for an identity. He is just avoiding introspection and pointing a finger at the world. Eventually his denial begins to unravel. Everybody who hasn't already read this book should. And since most people have you can always use it as an icebreaker.
Review by nui6882 (2003-07-19)
An interesting story of adolesence, The Catcher in the Rye is a classic amongst high school students, but one that I never got into. I understand that it is good, but I have never been able to connect emotionally to it. Holden, the protagonist, is very emotionally distant, until the climactic sequence with his younger sister. A good portrait of teenage alienation, more interesting than enthralling.
Review by Kidkarysma (2003-04-25)
This is what the definition of overrated is. I read it twice, once because of all the talk about it, and the second time because I thought I had missed something. Nope, I didn't miss a thing, because nothing happened in the whole book. Wow, hypocrisy in our society, that's so insightful.
Review by Tamarah (2003-04-10)
This book may seem to be written for teenagers, but I assure you that it is just as applicable to any adult who has the fortune to read it.
There are different types of books written: books that are plot-based, and books that actually speak to the reader. Plot based books allow the characters to lead the plot, such as in Shakespeare or Stephen King. Sallinger avoided this trend as if it could have burnt the very pages that he wrote on. Instead, he wrote of double-standards in society, events and attitudes that frustrated and disappointed him, and how the search for something "real" was as futile as the search for something to love.
As the ending may have thrown some readers off, as it certainly did not have the same "clean" ending with an ultimate conclusion as most novels, it reflects on Sallinger's previous discussions of "something real." It ended just as real life would end it: without a conclusion and without a moral. This novel is a perfect instrument for young adults to help explain the world in terms understandable to anyone willing to contemplate the world. I first read this book in high school, and have continued reading it well after college and have passed it along to friends and family to read as well. I think this is one of the most defining novels ever written due to the clarity it sheds on American society and youth.
Review by realbt (2003-03-08)
The Catcher in the Rye is perhaps one of the most brilliant books ever written. It's simple, yet complicated, and it says a whole lot. This book really spoke to me, in a way that few books do. Perhaps what I like best is that in the end, not everything is solved, like with so many books that are published today. I don't always want a happy ending, and I'm often more satisfied with something else.
In so many books I have read since reading Salinger's novel, I can recognise many aspects of both Salinger's style and Holden's character. This book has become a model for so many books.
Review by Unforgiven (2003-03-08)
I first read this book when I was 17, and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I completely identified with Holden, and it was as though I was reading about myself.
I'm still young (19), but not the same, and it affects how you view the book. It's very much aimed at the 14 - 18 age group, I think. Still, I think it's a great book, and gives great insight. I think my favorite part is when Holden is going on about how he wants to go out and just live in the woods, by himself with the girl. Holden's thoughts are classic, and end in a desire to just withdraw from society. But, I suppose it's all open to interpretation. I'm certianly no psycologist.
All in all, if you haven't read this book, you really are missing an important volume in your library. There's a very good reason why it's been popular for all these years.
Review by TheAvidReader (2003-03-08)
The Catcher in the Rye is probably one of the best books of all time. I first read it years ago as a teen . . . loved it then and love it even more now after countless readings. This novel is multi-leveled and Holden has a way of expressing what so many teenagers are feeling (timeless through the generations) without even realizing the full impact of his own epiphanies as he journies through New York City.
The ending is my favorite since Salinger did not sell out Holden or the reader. It depicts real life depression and that it's not a quick fix (which, ironically, is what often upsets the reader in the end).
Review by transient0 (2003-03-07)
Although this is the most famous of Salinger's works(due to being the most controversial), I think it is actually the least interesting. The Glass Family stories(basically everything else he has written) are fascinating. Catcher is still an excellent book. It is a book about angst. The less angst you feel, the less the book will resonate with you. Read it while you are young.
Review by nilobject (2003-03-07)
I can't stand it when adults criticize this book. I really do. It's like criticizing an adult novel when youíre 12 because itís too hard for you to understand. The Catcher in the Rye is obviously written for teenagers, kids in those volatile and tumultuous years. Holdenís experiences are perhaps not common, but his reactions, feeling, and attitudes are. I read this book first when I was 16 then more recently when I was 18. It still holds the power it always did. The power of relevance.
In regards to the banning of it: what the h*ll were the censors thinking?!? What caused it to be banned? Swear words? The hooker incident? Obviously they didnít read very much (whoever it was). I can name books with a lot heavier topics...
Review by Jorapello (2003-03-07)
A few other reviewers have said that this book is written for teens, and is about angst, etc. . . While I can see where they are coming from, and I am not speaking from experience, I believe that this book contains themes much more universal than "teen angst", which is such a droll topic. The disenchantment with society and the out-of-place feelingis something that I am sure many adults do feel, as well. . . and the whole hypocracy theme (with Holden himself being a "phony") is something that many adults should be reminded of. I suppose as one gets older, one is more set in one's ways and does not wish to think too hard about changing them, thus explaining why this book is more popular with the young'uns . . . but its themes are still timeless.
Review by Cocteau (2003-03-02)
Another one of those books that I stay awake at noght trying to fathom what exact reasons were there for it to be banned. It is above all an extremly realistic portrayal of youth, and Holden Caulfield is one of my top ten ever protagonists in a book. Read it because of Holden.