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The Catcher in The Rye

The+iconic+cover+of+The+Catcher+in+the+Rye.
The iconic cover of The Catcher in the Rye.

“I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot.” – Holden Caulfield

Holden Caulfield, the teenage narrator of The Catcher in the Rye said it best, himself. You don’t need to be smart to understand and love this classic tale. 

Originally published in 1948 in magazine installments and then in novel form in 1952, J.D. Salinger brought to life the experience of the not so average, but somehow relatable teenager. 

Taking place in the 1940s in New York City, the novel follows Holden Caulfield, a cynical teenager, alone on a two day trip back home after being expelled from prep school. The story handles many mature themes as Holden grapples with feelings of loneliness, loss, and sexuality, all while trying to protect himself from realities of adulthood. 

Although deeply appreciated in the literary community, The Catcher in the Rye was not in many school districts across the world. Containing vulgar language, graphic sexual imagery, and excessive violence, the Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States between 1961 and 1982. 

Don’t let the dates fool you though. Although the book takes place in the 1940s, Holden Caulfield is a captivating and timeless narrator. Unlike most narrators who try to idealize the life around them, Holden Caulfield tells it as it is. In fact, he does his best to call out phoniness, especially in his classmates and in the adults around him. It’s refreshing to see a narrator pull you in without the constant whirlwind of unnecessary adjectives and description which let’s be real here, becomes boring after a while (cough* cough* Nick Caraway in The Great Gatsby). 

It’s seen from the moment we meet Holden Caulfield that his storytelling was going to be memorable. “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, an 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 crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. ” (1) Serving as the first sentence in the novel, J.D. Salinger makes it feel as if Holden is talking directly to you. 

Out of all the things The Catcher in the Rye is, the most valuable reason to read the novel is simple. It’s authentic. It managed to provoke thoughts on human behavior in me while also making me laugh. It is truly such an enjoyable piece, so different from the books I’ve read, leading me to recommend it to you now.

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About the Contributor
Kate Lee, BHS News Reporter
Kate Lee, 2024, has served 1 semester for BHS News. She is a part of her class’ student council and is on the field hockey, hockey, and track team. In her free time, she plays the guitar and keyboard.

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