The catcher in the rye door J.D. Salinger

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  • 9 augustus 2006
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De vanger in het graan
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Boekcover The catcher in the rye

The Catcher in the Rye is the ultimate novel for disaffected youth, but it's relevant to all ages. The story is told by Holden Caulfield, a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Throughout, Holden dissects the 'phony' aspects of society, and the 'phonies' themselves: the headmaster whose affability depends o…

The Catcher in the Rye is the ultimate novel for disaffected youth, but it's relevant to all ages. The story is told by Holden Caulfield, a seventeen- year-old dropout who has …

The Catcher in the Rye is the ultimate novel for disaffected youth, but it's relevant to all ages. The story is told by Holden Caulfield, a seventeen- year-old dropout who has just been kicked out of his fourth school. Throughout, Holden dissects the 'phony' aspects of society, and the 'phonies' themselves: the headmaster whose affability depends on the wealth of the parents, his roommate who scores with girls using sickly-sweet affection.

The catcher in the rye door J.D. Salinger
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Title: The catcher in the rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Year: 1945
First publishment:: 1951
Informatie about the author:
Jerome David Salinger was born on January 1, 1919 in New York City. He had average grades in grade school, but was dismissed from a prestigious prep school for failing grades. He graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy. This school was the model for The Catcher in the Rye's Pency Prep. In 1942, he was drafted into the army. He was a member of the Fourth Army Division that made D-Day famous. After WW2, he was hospitalised in Germany for psychiatric treatment. Today, Salinger supposedly lives in New Hampshire in a cottage by himself. He still refuses to be interviewed, but rumours say he may break his silence by allowing a story of his to be published after about 30 years.
The told time is about four days. The book has no flashbacks, although Holden tells you about some things what happened in the past but you don't really witness them.

The story takes place in New York City.
It relates the experiences of Holden Caulfield, a sensitive but rebellious youth who runs away from his boarding school.
Robert Ackley. Ackley occupies the room adjacent to Holden's at Pencey Prep. Ackley is a "pimply" social outcast with poor personal hygiene and an annoying personality. Though Holden finds him irritating, he does have feelings of sympathy for Ackley on occasion.
Ward Stradlater. Stradlater is Holden's popular roommate, and one of the few sexually active boys at Pencey Prep. He is completely selfish, borrowing Holden's property without asking and paying little attention to maintaining it. Holden is infuriated by his date with Jane Gallagher and provokes a violent encounter with him.
Jane Gallagher. Jane does not appear in the novel, but Holden thinks of her frequently as one of the few girls he had felt truly intimate with, albeit not physically. Several times, he plans on calling her, but he always backs out at the last minute, saying he wasn't in the mood or he didn't feel right. It seems that this is really because Holden does not want to lose the illusion of her being an innocent girl.

Mr. Spencer. Mr. Spencer was Holden's History teacher at Pencey. He feels guilty for failing Holden, and he unsuccessfully attempts to make Holden understand the "game of life". Unlike Mr. Antolini, he attempts to talk to Holden from a position of authority, which Holden rejects.
Mr. Antolini. According to Holden, Mr. Antolini was, "one of the best teachers [he] ever had." Mr. Antolini was Holden's English teacher at Elkton Hills, another preparatory school that Holden had attended. Holden telephones Mr. Antolini in the latter part of the novel when looking for a place to sleep. Holden distinctly remembers an incident at Elkton Hills when a student, James Castle, committed suicide. Mr. Antolini used his jacket to cover Castle's corpse, and then carried Castle to the infirmary. Mr. Antolini tries to make Holden understand maturity and succeeds to a greater extent than Mr. Spencer. Holden catches Mr. Antolini patting him on the head while he's sleeping. He fears that Mr. Antolini may be making homosexual advances, and flees his apartment.
Carl Luce. Carl Luce is a student at Columbia University whom Holden knows from the Whooton School, another preparatory school that Holden was expelled from. Holden describes Carl as being notorious for having an overabundant knowledge about sex. Holden meets up with Carl at a bar in New York City. Holden's inability to abstain from talking about sex irritates Carl into leaving.
Sally Hayes. Sally is a girl Holden has known for years. She goes to Mary A. Woodruff, and is already home by the time Holden is in New York City. Holden takes her to see The Lunts at Radio City. Afterwards Holden and Sally go to an ice rink where Holden impulsively tells Sally to run away with him. Sally rejects this notion, and eventually Holden calls her a "royal pain in the ass" in frustration. Holden later phones her house while drunk.
Maurice. Maurice is the elevator operator at the Edmont Hotel. Maurice offers Holden the services of a prostitute to which Holden agrees. Later on, Maurice barges into Holden's hotel room and bullies Holden into paying extra money for the prostitute.
Sunny. Sunny is the cynical young prostitute Holden hires through Maurice. Holden loses his nerve and ends up doing nothing with Sunny except talking. Holden pays Sunny but she disputes the price. Holden refuses to pay her any more, so she returns with Maurice.
Mrs. Morrow. Mrs Morrow is the mother of Ernie Morrow, one of Holden's classmates at Pencey Prep. Holden meets Mrs. Morrow on a train bound for New York City after he leaves Pencey Prep. Mrs. Morrow initiates a conversation with Holden after noticing a Pencey Prep sticker on one of his suitcases. Holden talks with Mrs. Morrow about her son, but fabricates much of the conversation (Holden introduces himself as Rudolf Schmidtt, the custodian of Holden's dorm). Holden eventually tells her that he has a brain tumor to end the conversation.
A teenagers confrontation with experience.
Personal opinion:
I liked Holden in some ways, because sometimes I recognise (some of) his feelings about other persons. I don't wish to be him though, because he's a bit too negative most of the time. Not that I didn't like to read that, but I'm just not as negative as him. In other ways, I liked his sister (a bit), because she is very excited about things, but I wouldn't want to be her either.
I didn't like a girl named Sally Hayes, because she easily offended.
I didn’t think there was any humour in it.
I didn’t feel very much while I was reading it.
I liked the whole book, except a bit in the beginning, but I didn't find that uninteresting.
I think the author tried to explain that everybody has some value in his/her life. And that they just need to find out what that thing is, or you don't really have something to live for.
The Ataris - If You Really Want To Hear About It
This song is based on Catcher In The Rye and is an excellent way to start off a soundtrack to the book.
The story starts with explaining that this the last night Holden will be at Pencey, a Boarding School he is at. He has been kicked out of school because he didn't have good marks. It's almost Christmas and he supposed to go home for the holidays on Wednesday. He decides to go to New York a few days earlier, where his parents live, but he doesn't go home, because he doesn't want his parents to know he has been kicked out of school again, since it happened before. He takes the first train to New York and checks in at some hotel downtown. That night he goes to Ernie's, a nightclub. He has been there before with his brother D.B. and he likes the place because he can get booze there, he's only 16 years old. At the club, he dances the whole evening with a blond girl, but she's only interested in celebrities so he goes back to the hotel. At the hotel, the elevator-boy, called Maurice, says that he's a pimp and that he can arrange him a five-dollar whore. He takes the deal and a few minutes later the whore, named Sunny, arrives at his room. He is very excited because he thinks that he can lose his virginity that night, but when she takes her sweater off, he realizes that he doesn't feel sexy or something so he sends her away after he paid her. She wants ten dollar instead of the five dollar he had arranged with the elevator-boy. He doesn't give her the ten dollar and a few minutes later, she comes back with Maurice. He still doesn't want to pay and Maurice punches him in his face twice. Holden starts to cry and he pays the ten dollar. Sunny and Maurice leave and Holden goes to bed. The morning after, he phones Sally, his formal girlfriend, and they go see a theater-show at two 'o clock. They spend the whole afternoon together and after the show they go ice-skating. Later, in a bar, he tells her he wants to go to the woods with her and get a job so that they can marry each other. He was really serious. Sally didn't want to go and he called her a 'serious pain in the ass'. She really 'hit the ceiling' when he said that and she ran away. He felt lonely. He phones an old friend to get a drink together that night. They meet in some bar downtown. It isn't going well between them and after a while, and some (alcoholic) drinks, Holden's friend, Carl Luce, leaves. Holden stays at the bar. He drinks a lot that night and he gets really drunk. When he's drunk, he calls Sally to apologize for his behaviour that afternoon. He screws it up. She tells him he's really drunk and he really is. He goes to Central Park to go to the lake. He stays there for a while trying to find the ducks in the lake, but when he gets conscious again, he goes to his parents house, to sneak in and go to Phoebe, his ten year old sister. It seems that his parents aren't home and they talk a lot. He really likes Phoebe and she is very surprised to see him in the middle of the night. Suddenly their parents come home and Holden hides in the closet. When his parents are in bed, he leaves and goes to Mr. Antolini, his former teacher who is a very good friend of Holden. Holden tells him the whole story. He may sleep there that night, but when Holden wakes up at a moment, he sees mister Antolini touching his head so he gets out of his house as soon as possible. He goes to the station and stays there for the rest of the night. He decides to run away and he writes Phoebe a letter. It says that he will run away to the west and that she has to come to the park after school. He brings it to her school. When she comes, she is carrying suitcases with her; she wants to go with him. He tells her that it is not possible and they get into an argument. It causes him to let go of the idea and they make up. Holden will go home with Phoebe.
The review:
This book has been steeped in controversy since it was banned in America after it's first publication. John Lennon's assassin, Mark Chapman, asked the former Beatle to sign a copy of the book earlier in the morning of the day that he murdered Lennon. Police found the book in his possession upon apprehending the psychologically disturbed Chapman. However, the book itself contains nothing that could be attributed with leading Chapman to act as he did - it could have been any book that he was reading the day he decided to kill John Lennon - and as a result of the fact that it was The Catcher in the Rye, a book describing a nervous breakdown, media speculated widely about the possible connection. This gave the book even more notoriety. So what is The Catcher in the Rye actually about?
Superficially the story of a young man's expulsion from yet another school, The Catcher in the Rye is in fact a perceptive study of one individual's understanding of his human condition. Holden Caulfield, a teenager growing up in 1950s New York, has been expelled school for poor achievement once again. In an attempt to deal with this, he leaves school a few days prior to the end of term, and goes to New York to 'take a vacation' before returning to his parents' inevitable wrath. Told as a monologue, the book describes Holden's thoughts and activities over these few days, during which he describes a developing nervous breakdown, symptomised by his bouts of unexplained depression, impulsive spending and generally odd, erratic behaviour, prior to his eventual nervous collapse.
However, during his psychological battle, life continues on around Holden as it always had, with the majority of people ignoring the 'madman stuff' that is happening to him - until it begins to encroach on their well defined social codes. Progressively through the novel we are challenged to think about society's attitude to the human condition - does society have an 'ostrich in the sand' mentality, a deliberate ignorance of the emptiness that can characterise human existence? And if so, when Caulfield begins to probe and investigate his own sense of emptiness and isolation, before finally declaring that he world is full of 'phonies' with each one out for their own phony gain, is Holden actually the one who is going insane, or is it society which has lost it's mind for failing to see the hopelessness of their own lives?
When we are honest we can see within ourselves suppressed elements of the forces operating within Holden Caulfield, and because of that I would recommend this thought provoking novel as a fascinating and enlightening description of our human condition. However, beware... for that very reason it is not a comfortable read.


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