Rating: 4/5 stars.
I am Holden Caulfield.
Okay, not really. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of all the animosity people feel toward him. He does deserve the hate – he’s hypocritical, judgmental, whiny, and somewhat of a jerk overall. In fact, his awkwardness around the concept of homosexuality almost angered me.
But, as a seventeen-year-old male (just turned 17 last week!) I can honestly say that I connect with Holden. I usually detest characters who complain on every other page, but Holden complained on pretty much every page and I still empathized with him. He’s a lonely guy with an idealistic, unrealistic perspective who doesn’t know how to hold his own in a world where not everything can be watered down to black and white and right and wrong. He’s caring, emotional, and intelligent, but so thoroughly disconnected from everyone that he cannot express what he wants, if he even knows what that is. He is hurt, he needs to heal, and he is one of the few fictional characters who I would give a hug to if I could.
Overall, major respect points to J.D. Salinger for writing what is commonly called the first real “young-adult” book/classic, and for creating the most banned book ever. The Catcher in the Rye should be read by anyone searching for a wonderfully misanthropic, tragically classic coming-of-age story.
*interestingly enough, Carol Gilligan, a researcher in the field of developmental psychology, states that boys have a more absolute view of right and wrong while girls are more likely to take into account situational factors. Perhaps this plays a part in me and Holden’s thinking pattern…