Monday, February 14, 2011

The Catcher In The Rye

I'm sure many of you have read this book already:

What a beat up book...

I've had this book from way back in 2007... and I must have been reading it for like the twelfth time or something (I just finished rereading it this Saturday). It is perhaps one of the few books that I've read more than once (others would include Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and a few or Terry Pratchett's Discworld books), although you could argue that I haven't read that many books in the first place anyway hahaha.

Speaking of books, I read quite little (fiction) books - most of my stuff are leaning more towards the nonfiction ones, see. Speaking of which, the last fiction book - besides The Catcher In The Rye - that I read was Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (I couldn't finish it actually, and I don't know if I'll get around to do so - sorry Dickens, but the story is just too slow for me). I'm currently looking for more book to read during my idling time - I might head over the library for that (if I'm not too lazy anyway).

I actually found out about the book after I heard it being mentioned along with John Lennon (apparently the guy who shot him had carried the book along with him at the day of murder), as well as Charles Manson. And then, there's the part in Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex as well. Yeah, I know - talk about secondaries, huh?

That one quote

In case you haven't read the book, it's about this one guy, Holden Caulfield, who had just got kicked out from his school. The rest of the book show how he views the people and the environment around him, in this rather jaded, angry and dissatisfied point of view.

I like this book a lot, mostly because I can relate a lot with what he's been through. You know, about being disassociated from cliques and groupies, depression, a feeling of dissatisfaction with practically everyone (yeah, I have negative tendency, I'll give you that). Anyway, Holden sounds like the type of guy I'd invite over for a drink to talk about life and shit, only that he certainly would find me boring or something. Or I might be seen to him as one of those 'phonies': for some reason I can't imagine him agreeing with me on some of my past time activities - but if so, screw him.

Someone who had read the book commented that Holden's a real negative person. It is as if he hates everyone around him - which, as you'd find near the end of the book, he disproved by mentioning that he hates only a certain part of people. I guess that's true (about him hating everyone around him), since you'd be hard pressed to find any character in the book which he doesn't mention at least a bit of their bad sides (except maybe for his late brother, Allie).

Looking at his negative point of view, I couldn't help but relate it with everyone else who act in this way (I guess you could include myself as one). I wonder if there is any reason for them to be looking at everything with dark-tinted glasses in the first place, or if it's something they pick up as they grow up? Going through the book, it seems that there isn't much in Holden's past that could shape him up to be who he is - no abused childhood, nasty parents, those kind of things. Maybe it's just an inherent property of his at work, I dunno.

There's one thing I keep wondering about this book: apparently this book is considered one of those books that teens read as a sort-of rite of passage, see? As in, the book is widely read among this group, right?

Well, if that is the case indeed... then how come we still get a lot of jerks out there? The phonies, wannabes, bullies, idiots, those bad bunches. Are we to assume they haven't read this book, or if they did, they just take the whole book as a typical emoing kid 'I hate everyone and I wish they die' point of view?

Maybe they consider what they're doing as 'normal', and those that don't conform with them are immediately treated as an outcast, as what happened to our dear Holden. Really, if you want to look at it one way, you can't really blame him for having a jaded point of view of the people around him.

But you could argue that you'd be dead tired trying to go against the flow of thought all the time, and you would have to compromise once in a while... I'm sure a lot of us have been through this before (or may still be going through it?)

Speaking about those teens, I think I understand why Salinger decided to isolate himself after this book was published. I could imagine him being somewhat of a Holden Caulfield, getting sick and tired of meeting all the phonies and terrible people he himself had highlighted in the book, all coming up to him and saying a thousand generic and pretentious praising words. Oh boy~

So before I end this rambling post, I have this one cool story to share, one that is somewhat related to the book:

During pre-uni level study, I was in the same room with this one guy, who was somewhat a jerk (he smokes a lot in the room, he beat people, and just like to cause hell), but he's quite alright I guess, since he taught me to take it easy and not be too serious with my studies and all (what that meant was that I shouldn't be too nerdy and all). During the first semester finals, his result wasn't too hot - so it wasn't long before they announced that he had been kicked out of college. He didn't seem too bothered about it - you could even say that he saw the whole thing coming, even.

And then, at one point before he left, he told us his crazy idea of working part time in some shops, and then changing his identity card so that his parents won't be able to find him and all. And you know what I thought when I heard that? Yeap, that's right: "this sounds all too familiar..." Hell, I was even tempted to hand him a copy of The Catcher In The Rye, so he can know how he isn't exactly alone on the matter and all that.

But of course, as with Holden, his parents eventually found out that he got the ax, and he was then sent over to another college. And that is the end of the story~


  1. I'm overjoyed to find someone else who enjoyed, could relate and has affected by this book! :3 It's my favorite. It's changed the way I think. Holden is one of the most charming and enduring characters I've ever experienced. It's a shame so many people don't seem to groove to him. It really seems to be a book that people either love or hate.

    >Well, if that is the case indeed... then how come we still get a lot of jerks out there?

    I wish we knew the answer to that. We're the Holdens of this world.

    >Speaking about those teens, I think I understand why Salinger decided to isolate himself after this book was published. I could imagine him being somewhat of a Holden Caulfield.

    I think I'd agree with you. It's pretty coincidental that he had such a reclusive lifestyle. RIP.

  2. I haven't read this book, but I plan to buy it whenever I have the money. I've wanted to read this, and a lot of other books as well, for some time, but it's hard when you're poor and don't want to read on the internet or borrow some used book from the library.

  3. I've got it sitting on my bookshelf unread...

  4. @Chiyo: I wouldn't say the book changed the way I think, but at least I can relate with a lot that's being said by Holden. It's kinda cool to hear how the book have affected you tho =D

    I actually don't really find him too pleasing at first, but I end up liking him eventually.

    @Link: Don't worry man, take it easy on the books.

    Yeah, we have no monies ;_;

    @Hermit: Go and read it man! The book's quite light, and isn't heavy or tedious as, say, Dickens'. 's a good book.