Brief Review: Catcher in the Rye

 

I didn’t like it. The main character annoyed me. I might have liked the novel better had it been written in third-person. Then I wouldn’t have had to deal with Holden Caulfield’s juvenile diction. There are just too many “and all”s, “anything like that”s, and “I swear to God”s for me. I got sick of these phrases and others like them, as they were repeated ad nauseam.

The characters were good, though. I think Holden Caulfield is a good stand-in for young men who are smart and kind, but not directed enough toward any particular goal to be useful. Men need goals, otherwise we stagnate, much like Holden did. And when we stagnate, it’s easy for us to become bitter and resentful towards others, to think that the only reason our life isn’t going the way we want it to is because the world is full of “phonies.” We can think that it would be better if we just ran off and did our own thing and never had contact with anyone. Obviously, when we think these things, we’re wrong. What we really need is to submit ourselves to something greater than us, so that all of the chaotic impulses battling within us can be put in order. Unfortunately, we don’t want to submit, because who ever wants to submit?

It’s unclear whether Holden will ever pull himself together. But it seems that he at least knows he’s a mess, by the end of the novel. That’s an encouraging start. If we can’t admit to ourselves that we’re fools, then we’re a lot less likely to become less foolish in the future. Of course, acknowledging your idiocy isn’t a sufficient condition for becoming less of an idiot, but it is a necessary one. You’re a ball of chaos and you need someone to put you back in order. Recognize this need and pray that someone comes to meet it.

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