"Book Report: The Catcher in the Rye"

The Catcher in the Rye book cover

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

What struck me most about_Catcher in the Rye_ was how closely my teenage self could have related to the main character of the story. I remember, as a younger person, referring to things I didn't understand or want to accept with one-off labels like "stupid", "lame", "retarded" etc... It was as if my pride was determinant on being right, all the time, and anything that might threaten that was beneath me.

Salinger captures the adolescent inner-rebellion in a very intimate dialog that Holden Caulfield, the antihero, has with the reader. Near the end of the book, Holden speaks with a teacher who wisely summarizes a distinction between youth and adulthood:

The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.

And what struck home most with me was the teacher's description of Holden's problem:

This fall I think you're riding for--it's a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn't permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement's designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn't supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn't supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started.

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