SUMMARY: A seventeen-year-old Holden Caulfield tells a story about what he did during a few days a year ago when he was expelled from school. Instead of going home, he aimlessly wanders the streets of New York, making observations about everything and everyone and behaving stupidly.
I first read this book when I was around 18. Rereading it now, it was quite a different experience, because my English is now much better than then and because now I can see it from a teacher’s perspective.
Nevertheless, I could not find many things to enjoy in this book. The plot itself was disappointing. I kept waiting for something big to happen, but there is no such event, just a teenager rambling about.
Holden is a spoiled rich boy, who is constantly complaining about everyone being phony. He is intelligent but lazy which is why he fails most of his classes and gets kicked out of school. He behaves foolishly and spends his money carelessly. The only sympathetic characteristic I could find about him was his affection for his dead brother. Otherwise, he is just an annoying teenager, alienated from his parents, though they seem quite ordinary parents for their class and time, at least Holden does not provide any solid example of them not being nice to him.
What I like in The Cather in the Rye is how Salinger captures teenage slang in such a timeless manner that can be related to teenagers in the present. Also, the following of Holden’s statements made me laugh (it was sarcastic bitter-sweet teacher's laughter): “You can’t stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it.” and “You don’t have to think too hard when you talk to a teacher.”
There are a few such sarcasm-provoking sentences scattered across the book, which livens it up a little. I found the parts where Holden expresses his opinion on a few books and films interesting, too, since I obviously like talking about these topics.
RECOMMENDATION: Need a substitute for an afternoon nap? Read this, it is very calming and relaxing, nothing too exciting; that is if you do not get unnerved by teenage rambling.