She was right, though. It is “If a body meet a body coming through the rye.” I didn’t know it then, though.
“I thought it was ‘If a body catch a body,'” I said. “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 all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.” – from The Catcher in the Rye, pages 224-225 –
J.D. Salinger’s classic novel The Catcher in the Rye is narrated entirely from the point of view of sixteen year old Holden Caulfield – a boy on the cusp of manhood who is trying to find his way in the world of adults. Holden’s ambivalence about becoming a man is evident from the beginning. He is a cynical, immature teenager who is full of angst. The novel is really a retrospective covering a narrow time frame that begins when Holden is kicked out of an expensive prep school and extends over about four days as he takes the train back to his home in New York City and encounters various other characters. Holden Caulfield is not likable – he is antagonistic, smokes incessantly, and uses foul language in nearly every sentence. He is also a rather unreliable narrator, a boy who overcompensates for his insecurities by being jaunty and full of himself.
Thematically the novel covers issues of isolation, sexuality, and teenage angst. Caulfield’s struggle to understand mature sexual relationships plays a large role in the story. Faced with the terrifying leap over the cliff into adulthood, Caulfield sinks into a depression as the novel progresses.
The story has a rambling style of run on sentences filled with pithy dialogue. There were times when I grew tired of Caulfield’s negative voice. If I had to live with this kid I would probably want to shake him until his head snapped back and forth on his scrawny neck. Despite those moments, there were times I wanted to like his character – he is a boy who loves writing and reading, and beneath his tough exterior is a sensitive kid who has no idea how to grow up.
The Catcher in the Rye has been a controversial novel since it was first published in the mid-twentieth century. Censored and challenged as part of high school reading lists, it has come under fire for its profanity, sexual themes, and teenage rebellion. I thought it rather tame compared to some of the other literature I’ve read.
I can’t say I really enjoyed this book. It is a quick read, but grew tiresome for me. I can see how it would appeal to teens – especially boys. I don’t really understand the idea of censorship or challenges for books like this…to me they are great places to start a dialogue with teens. Although I’m glad I finally got around to reading The Catcher in the Rye (for some reason I never read this novel as a teenager), it isn’t a tome I could recommend to other adult readers.
Just an average read that some might like –