Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Catcher of Innocence

Recently I finished reading The Catcher in The Rye by J D Salinger. It was my birthday gift from two dear friends. The book was awesome and took me to my school days but I was not as bold as Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in the story.

Holden, 16 years old boy who learns that he is going to be kicked out of the school again. Then suddenly in the middle of the night he packs the bags and leaves the school without informing anyone. He heads to New York City to roam around before he goes to home.

He knows that he would not be welcomed at home so decides to enjoy few days flirting with girls, secretly meeting his sister, enjoying the night life of New York and even flirting with his friend's mother.

The book takes us to the adolescent world, whose hero Holden is in many ways a typical teenager, skeptical of all authority and with a hostile attitude. Holden has disliking towards phonies and has a great aversion for many things related to adulthood. But he is not good with his friends also.

Finally Holden leaves school and enters into the world of adults. He survives well their with his confidence, sometimes smartness and of course with few bucks in hand.

Holden very openly talks about sexuality his attraction towards girls, jealousy when his ex girlfriend goes for a date with his roommate. He does not even mind inviting a callgirl in the hotel room. But at the same time he admits that he is virgin. Holden also continues his preoccupation with sex when he meets the nuns at the station.

Holden recommends only one thing authenticity and innocence. So he likes his sister Phobe and dead brother Allie because they are innocent. When Phobe asks him what does he want become in his life, he says the 'Catcher in the Rye'. He wants to preserve the thousands of children playing in a Rye farm and protect their innocence from falling of the 'cliff' of the world of adults. So he will be the 'Catcher' on the cliff.

The book talks all about the story of a rebellion adolescent who is against the double standard of this world and that is why he is being alienated. There is always a pressure from society, home, school to follow certain rules if you want to be called as 'good'. Holden refutes these rules and enjoy life as he wants it. He also pays 'price' for that , sometimes by getting beaten up by friend or sometimes even by a callgirl agent.

One more appealing part of the book is the language used though some find it slang. Holden keeps calling everyone 'Old' including a kid. Whenever he gets emotional he says 'That kills me'. Then 'Boy' his favourite adjective.

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