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May 4, 2023

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Filed under: Fiction — Tags: — Randolph @ 9:45 am

This book has been on my reading list for a long time, and I was somewhat disappointed. The story is of a teenager dealing with getting dropped out of another school. He wanders about, avoiding his parents and going through a few adventures.

The story is told from a first-person perspective. His language is crude and uses a lot of mild vulgarity, but this doesn’t make it difficult to read. Through his adventures, the real story is told through backstory, we meet his friends and family and learn about his values.

It seems to be a type of travel story, I kept expecting him to grow up. There is a suggestion at the end that that could come to pass, but it’s not clear that he has learned anything.

The title is a reference to his one desire, to save children, the catcher in the rye being a person to keep children from falling off a cliff. This could be an allusion to his one good family relationship to his younger sister, who dotes on him and believes in him despite any evidence to the contrary.

Throughout his adventures, we never meet any family members except his sister. He does have adults he respects, who have opportunity to advise him, but who have their own faults, real or imagined.

The book itself is short and easy to read. I’m not sure why it has such acclaim.


  1. I think you may have read this book at the wrong age. Like Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, I think this is a book best encountered when you are a teen for it to work it’s magic on you. I read neither as a young man and when I finally did, I also was not sure why these books were so lauded. They certainly didn’t invoke a strong response. Part of its acclaim surely comes from J. D. Salinger who become a recluse in the 60’s because he didn’t like the fame his writing bought him. He didn’t publish anything for the rest of his long life. He lived to 91. His estate claims that he never stopped writing, just publishing. Also, it was an anti-authoritarian and profane as you noted but it was published in 1951, years before such fare was common.
    Ultimately, I think it is a good book, maybe a great one but it’s situational. Many teens in the 50’s and 60’s who read it were deeply moved by such a profound statement of what they felt, that the world wasn’t quite right and their place in it wasn’t secure.
    Today’s youth need no such wakeup call as the social media and the internet takes care all of that for them. Still, this book comes up for banning on a regular basis as it’s call for disobedience still bothers parents.

    Comment by Michael Ruger — May 11, 2023 @ 5:19 pm

  2. The big reason I read it is that our trivia team is named Cacher in the Why, a play on the title. I didn’t realize it was a YA book. But it does come up in trivia from time to time. Good comments, Mike.

    Comment by Randolph — May 12, 2023 @ 8:51 am

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