Despite our long distance relationship –Meagan and I continue to read together – albeit in two different cities. She’s all the way in Ottawa (where I went to university) and I’m a four to five hour drive away in Toronto. I must say, this Book Club for Two has kept us close. Our goofy personalities keep it lively, and of course our intellectual debates – that tend to be more down to earth and enjoyable than some of my stiff university classes – are always a pleasurable experience.
We finished Cather in the Rye by J. D. Salinger in 2015, but with my writing hiatus in full effect – I didn’t let you know. Well, here we go. I’m going to do my best to remember what I thought about this classic high-school novel.
Subway iPhone notes:
- Narrator -Holden Caulfield – is kind of an asshole
- Mental illness due to trauma or PTSD
- His sister helps him cope, but not many others provide him with that sense of comfort
- I hate phoniness as much as Holden
- Unsatisfying ending
“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around—nobody big, I mean—except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.”
– J. D. Salinger
Automatically, the title intrigued us. It’s in our nature to want to understand things. Especially when something is symbolic or foreshadowing. The author does not give anything away here, so you’re drawn in by the narration.
The problem for me was, Holden is such a brat. Honestly, he has asshole tendencies, and though he hates fake people (which includes practically everyone he meets) he too tends to put on a facade. His public image is not always his true self.
Later in the book we realize why that is – and it becomes clear that Holden is having difficulty dealing with his deceased sibling. He tends to put himself in situations that are harmful to him. Calling a prostitute to come to his hotel room, or visiting his old teacher who seems to have sexually abused him in the pass – are both circumstances that he freely enters into. Though, it could be assumed that Holden is overreacting when his teacher touches his forehead. It was pretty blurry to me as I read on the subway.
The timeframe is neat, and I enjoyed that it was one weekend of the young boy’s life in New York (where his family lives). Holden’s relationship with his younger sister is one of compassion, understanding and love. Phoebe is younger, yet more mature. She really hears Holden and understands him.
Overall, Holden grew on me as a character, and I began to understand him. He seems to want to save kids from adulthood – at least that’s the interpretation that Meagan and I had after reading.