A New Look At an Old Book: “The Catcher in the Rye” Still Resonates

By Julianne Boisvert

catcher“The Catcher in the Rye” is a classic American novel by J. D. Salinger, published July 16, 1951. The book tells the story of 17-year-old Holden Caulfield, who acts as narrator and protagonist. Since it’s one of my favorite novels due to its candid tone and timelessness, I was excited to review the book — and curious to discover if my initial perspectives would be altered. After reading “The Catcher in the Rye” in my junior year of high school, I grew confidence to develop my own writing style, much like Salinger developed his with this book.

Since Catcher in the Rye was an immediate success upon publication, 32-year-old Salinger received an immense amount of media attention. It’s often been noted that Salinger was not fond of the spotlight and became increasingly private and withdrawn, writing less frequently as time went on. His struggles against celebrity even prompted legal issues, including a battle in the 1980s with Ian Hamilton about his biography.  Salinger died in 2010, though his work continues resonate.

Catcher in the Rye is an important landmark in American literature. I was impressed by Salinger’s ability to draw me into the mindset of a 17-year-old boy growing up so many years in the past.  Although the events of our lives don’t exactly coincide, Holden’s perspective is portrayed so vividly that I was able to understand his interpretations and reactions to the world he lived in.  Frankly, I found the sarcastic and blunt tone of the novel to be hilarious, and the informal nature of the writing refreshing.

Although I felt slightly confused during the beginning of the novel, Holden’s journey that Salinger leads us through comes together by the end. I admire the use of repetition in some of Holden’s phrases that Salinger used throughout the novel, as well as the juxtaposition of Holden’s frankness and profanity against his innocence as a young boy.

Even now as a 22-year-old, re-reading the story made me adore Holden Caulfield all over again. Perhaps it’s due to the same dry humor that Salinger and I seem to share, or the fact that I think we all know or have met someone like Holden at some point.  Catcher in the Rye had a strong influence over me as a writer. It still holds relevance to youth today. 

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