The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 1-3

I started reading The Catcher in the Rye. I’m in a mini-book club, and when I say mini, it’s super duper mini. There is me and then one other person, who is a really close friend of mine.

The book has been interesting thus far… to say the least.

Here are a few thoughts…

Yay:

The narrator, whose name is apparently Holden Caulfield, does have a sense of humor. He’s sarcastic, for sure. But he is also funny. I think that is what keeps me turning pages.

For example, he writes a note to his professor on his exam: “That is all I know about the Egyptians. I can’t seem to get very interested in them although your lectures are very interesting. It is all right with me if you flunk me though as I am flunking everything else except English anyway” (12). The narrator’s tone has been so lax and even crass that this formally written letter to the professor with “dear” at the beginning and “respectfully yours” when signing off is hilarious as well as unexpected.

Also, the narrator, who has failed four other classes, at least didn’t fail English – my favorite subject! 😀 Good job, angsty 1950s teen! He claims that he didn’t fail English because he’d read Beowulf and other books from a previous class before. Although that might be true, I have a feeling inside (and I could TOTALLY be wrong, I’ll admit) that perhaps this teen might have a deeper connection to the written word than he is letting on.

For example, he says, “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” (18). I love this quote. Thumbs up, Salinger! ☺

Nay:

The narrator is reallllllllllllllly irritating. I don’t understand all this angst. Why is he so annoying? Why does he have no drive? Why does he lie so much?

“I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful” (16). That’s not a great quality, Holden.

I’m reading my dad’s copy of the book. It has great side comments about the narrator that make me laugh, such as “neurotic,” “schizophrenia,” “unstable,” “not tactful,” and “egotist.”

All these terms seem to apply pretty well. Here’s to hoping that he’s a dynamic character.

Also, I get the feeling that this is a book where nothing really happens.

But for some reason, I keep reading. I want to know what happens. So I guess that’s a good thing.

Gray:

The narrator seems to have a lot of tension with older people. He is critical of the professor, who has a bumpy chest, and his wife, who is deaf. Although it’s uncomfortable to read how hateful he is towards others, it is also compelling. I want to know why he is so disgruntled about everyone around him.

There also seems to be quite a bit of tension between he and his brother: “I mean that’s all I told D. B. about, and he’s my brother and all… He’s got a lot of dough, now. He didn’t use to” (1). Why is there so much anger towards this older brother?

More {silly?} Questions:

The narrator says, “I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot” (18).

What does he mean by that? Is he saying that although he reads, he feels that he is illiterate or doesn’t understand what he is reading? Or does he just not feel very smart? Is THAT the reason why he is slacking in school?

MLA:
Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. New York City: Bantam Book, 1951. Print

*NOTE: I can’t figure out how to work italics on here. Sorry!

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The Catcher in the Rye, Chapters 1-3

11 thoughts on “The Catcher in the Rye, Chapters 1-3

  1. I’m not a huge fan of Catcher in The Rye because Holden annoys me. But Salinger’s style of writing is completely arresting and it’s definitely one of those books that everyone should read.

    I reccommend his 9 Stories collection if Catcher doesn’t do it for you.

  2. I read this book first as a teenager and then again as an adult. It was interesting to see the change in my reaction to this book. Holden, of course, came across as more irritating when I re-read it. I don’t even know if I noticed it when I was seventeen. In a way, something is lost for an older reader who never had a chance to read it as a kid.

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