The Catcher in the Rye is narrated by Holden Caulfield – a disillusioned teenager, who, after getting kicked out of prep school, emotionally and physically deteriorates into a hopeless, depressed existence. He recognizes his terrible state, but canât seem to find a way out, and spirals to the point of mental breakdown. The book follows him over the course of several days as he tries to figure out what to do. What a loaded book this is – brilliantly written, and equally controversial.
The dialogue is literally LITTERED with swearing; youâre lucky if you can get through one page without one of Holdenâs âcolorfulâ rampages and exaggerations. There is also sexually related subject matter, underage drinking, smoking, and other content inappropriate for a non-adult audience (which is why it stays on the most frequently challenged book lists).
Does this book capture the thinking of a teen trying to make sense of the world? Maybe in some isolated cases, but I think Holdenâs viewpoint is the exception, not the rule. His condition is pitiable, however Holdenâs troubles were not just from bad âluckâ, but also bad choices, and an extreme cynicism. This foul-mouth screwed-up teen ainât exactly the voice I want hanging around my sonâs heads â this character WILL leave a lasting impression.
The Catcher in the Rye is a one of a kind book, but it shouldnât be a required read for high schoolers (itâs 1951 publication was intended for adults). Iâm glad I managed to squeak through high-school without having read it. Though I wasnât overly fond of it, at least as an adult I could better appreciate Salingerâs unusual style, something I wouldnât have done as a teen. But even as an adult, the profanity was tough to stomach. Readers beware. This read comes at a cost, and the price is innocence.