Monday, May 7, 2012

Catcher in the Rye - Book Review

"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean, except me. And i'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's what I do all day. I'd rather be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy. but that's the only thing I'd really like to be."

The Catcher in the Rye is a novel written by J.D Salinger in 1951. The books deals about the problems faced by a 17 year old boy, his expulsion from school, and themes like alienation, depression, teenage angst and rebellion. The book is highly popular amongst adolescent readers as they can relate with the protagonist in some way or the other. It is a highly controversial book, being released originally only for adults, as it promotes use of profanity, smoking, drinking as well as blasphemy.

The protagonist Holden Caulfield is a teenager who is expelled from school due to poor performance. Having gotten annoyed of his friends and roommate in school and not wanting to go home in New York before vacations start, he plans to spend time somehow in the city itself.

"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it. you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."

Alienated, aimless and depressed he longs to connect with some person. Not finding many people to turn up to he ends being more depressed, smokes and drinks a lot and tries to seek some company even in a prostitute, just wanting to talk to her.

"Grand. there's a word I really hate. It's a phony. I could puke every time I hear it."

He walks around the streets of New York, depressed and lonely, wanting to talk to his kid sister Phoebe or his dead younger brother Allie. He roams around with a callous attitude and put on maturity and judges everyone he sees. He hates the artificial (phony) nature of people around him and excessively abuses them in his mind but also immediately feels sorry or pity for some characteristic of theirs.

Overall the picture depicted of him by the author is this sad and lonely teenager who sometimes thinks he is above the world and starts digressing about the people he knew and at other times feels extremely bad about himself and drinks and smokes excessively.

The author brings out his character as a teenager filled with angst and rebellion who is driven crazy by girls. Also his brotherly character is shown wherein he is protective younger sibling and (somewhat) respectful of his elder brother D.B.

He says the following lines when he finds "Fuck You" signs in his sister's school and gets annoyed considering the possibility that she'll find out its meaning and start using it one day. He tries to rub the ones he could see.

"When you're not looking, somebody will sneak up and write "Fuck You" right under your nose."

"If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the "Fuck You" signs in the world, Its impossible."

The book is simply and frankly written and every person can relate to the protagonist in some or the other way, having experienced it before in some way. It will prove to be a very interesting read straight out of a 17 year old guy's mind.

The Cover of the Book with J.D Salinger on the right.

Contributed by Kshitij Jayakrishnan.