2016 Reading Challenge Book #5: The Catcher in the Rye

Rye catcher.jpgFor the 2016 Reading Challenge I chose to read The Catcher in the Rye for the 1950 to 1960 book. This book is considered one of the great classics to read. I enjoyed rereading this book again as it is one of my favorites. In this book we are introduced to Holden Caufield as he comes into his own after entering a very exclusive private school.

When we are brought into Holden’s life we are brought into Pencey Preparatory school. We learn that he is the manager of the fencing team, unfortunately he loses all of the equipment on a subway in New York. His history teacher tells him that he is expelled until the next semester which starts the next Wednesday. Mr. Spencer, the history teacher, is a well meaning man who decides to read Holden his history paper out loud at his home much to his annoyance. When Holden returns to school we learn that he is not one to fit in with the crowd. He doesn’t get along with his womanizing roommate and his neighbor is loud and annoying. When his roommate brings home one of Holden’s old female friend they have an argument. This results in Holden leaving school for New York City. He checks into a hotel where he decides to stay until next Wednesday.

Yet his stay that the hotel causes Holden to question his own sexuality. There he sees that there are many perverts who live within the rooms at the hotel. One night he decides to lose his virginity and arranges for a prostitute to come and see him. Once she enters the room he becomes uncomfortable with the situation due to her being around the same age that he is. He tells her that all he wants to do is talk. After paying her she leaves and comes back with her pimp insisting that he pay her more.

After going a short night in the hotel Holden decides to catch up with his friend Sally. When he checks out of the hotel he decides that he will sneak in and out of his parents apartment. Shortly, after leaving the hotel he meets up with Sally who rejects him after a long day. This does not sit well with Holden who ends up getting drunk and destroying his sister Phoebe’s records. Later on Holden decides to go to the Museum of Natural History. As he walks through the museum he reflects on an old misinterpretation of the Robert Burn’s song Comin’ Through the Rye. He now looks at it as though it was The Catcher in the Rye for children loosing their innocence.

After his parents return to their apartment Holden sneaks out again to go and visit his old English teacher. From Mr. Antolini he is able to come to terms with his theory about the Catcher in the Rye. However, this conversation takes a wrong turn when Mr. Antolini becomes drunk and accuses him of being homosexual. Uncomfortable, Holden decides to leave his house and rethink his life.

All of this makes Holden decide he wants to move out west and live as a deaf mute. He tells Phoebe about it after taking her out to lunch. Holden rejects Phoebe’s offer of helping him out because she is in a play that she wants him to see. Seeing how upset Phoebe is he takes her to the zoo where he finds happiness in seeing her ride on the carousel in the rain.

The novel concludes with us being brought into Holden’s current life. He doesn’t share too much about where he is today. But, he does inform us that he is going to a different school in September. Holden tells us about the things that he has learned after reflecting on his past. There are many people in the past  who he does miss, like his womanizing roommate and the pimp that punched him in the stomach. In the final conclusion he warns the reader about not listening to others experiences because they might be missing out on something.

Published in 1951 The Catcher in the Rye became a hit. J.S. Salinger told a coming of age story that is filled with alienation and teenage angst. The struggles that Holden has are not as different as the ones that some teenagers today struggle with. The Catcher in the Rye is a great read for anyone that wants to relive a classic.

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