Catcher in the Rye

By J.D. Salinger

By Ray Mielke

Summary

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a realistic fiction novel intended for young adults. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is an unruly 16 year old boy, who is attending a prepatory school in Pennsylvania- for the first several pages, that is. It becomes the fourth school that he's been kicked out of, this time for failing four out of five classes. In a world full of "phonies", Holden is both disappointed and pleased about his dismissal. He proceeds to find himself in New York City, wandering with no direction, and getting into a series of misadventures that his parents would most certainly not want to know about. Does Holden find himself? Will he attend another school? How will his parents react? To find out the answers to these questions, one simply has to read the book.
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Setting

Catcher in the Rye has two different settings: the dorms of Pencey Preparatory School in Pennsylvania, and various streets and other locations in New York City in the winter. In the dorms and on Pencey Campus, the book's themes and characters are introduced, and Holden reveals his background through dialogue with other characters. In New York, Holden visits a variety of taxis, hotels, bars, and clubs, where the "meat" of the book takes place.

Theme

Here is a fan made preview for Catcher in the Rye. It captures the theme of the book well, by giving an overall summary of the plot, while perfectly capturing the book's main themes and characters.
The Catcher in the Rye Official Trailer (2014)

About the Author

This book was written by Jerome David Salinger (more commonly known as J.D. Salinger) in 1951. Jerome was born in 1919 and raised in Manhattan, and started writing short stories when he was in Jr. High School. In the early 1940s, when the U.S. became involved in WW2, he served as an Army Sergeant, which most certainly influenced his writings, especially the main character of Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield. In the late 1940s, he became a devout Buddhist; perhaps the fighting and bloodshed made him want nothing but peace? His most famous work was, of course, Catcher in the Rye, which has become a classic and yet controversial novel. In 1955, he married Claire Douglas, a Radcliffe student. He had two children with her. His later life in the 80s and 90s were rocked with scandal and lawsuit over publications about or related to him. He died in 2010 of natural causes at 91 years old
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Music

One song that I find connects to the plot rather well is "You May Be Right" by Billy Joel. Its lyrics detail a young man who continually engages in reckless behaviors, and then proceeds to comment on him being crazy. Holden also does many reckless things, including drinking, smoking, and admitting to other underage sexual shenanigans.

(Video is a youtube video as I could not find the audio)

Billy Joel - You May Be Right

Recommendation

Catcher in the Rye was definitely the best "classic" book I've ever read. It has an intriguing plot, witty characters, and language that's not from the 4th century AD. Most teenagers should be able to identify with Holden and his rebellion and life, and his commentary and wisdom on life in general is quite humorous and will leave readers wanting more. If you're a teenager or anyone that has ever been a teenager, I would recommend this book to you. Some content may not be suitable for children or adolescents that have been living under a rock and wouldn't get a select few subtle references, but as for everyone else, this is a tried and true novel that has proven to be the best for decades.
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