Palatinate book club: The Catcher in the Rye
by Jess Denham
“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”. As is Holden Caulfield’s theory on what makes a successful novel and The Catcher in the Rye by the late J.D. Salinger seems to fit it perfectly. Shrouded in both controversy and admiration, many teenagers will see themselves reflected in Holden, his disenchanted young protagonist.
Failing at school while struggling with the journey from childhood to maturity, the turmoils of youth are brilliantly portrayed through Holden’s experiences, while Salinger’s effortless style and unapologetic humour are easy to relate to, inspiring young people to discover more about their individuality. Following his exploits in New York and psychologically affected by the death of his younger brother Allie, Holden reveals that he longs to become ‘the catcher in the rye’, preventing children from falling off ‘some crazy cliff’. His poignant desperation to protect innocence will strike a chord with anyone who has ever felt disillusioned with life.
Far from a comforting read, Salinger’s novel provides a disturbingly enlightening portrayal of an individual in conflict with the ‘phoney’ world of adulthood from which he feels alienated. Readers will find themselves questioning society as Holden does, in a time when we are very much victims of modern culture, technology and all that is considered ‘cool’.