A New Look At an Old Book: A Teen’s Struggle


That damn book. That’s another thing. I hate reading.

This is what went through my head when I was in high school and my English teacher assigned me to read J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel, “The Catcher in the Rye.” Excitement was not something that ran through my head. In fact, to tell you the truth, after the first two chapters, I used Spark Notes instead. However, after reading (actually reading it this time) and giving it another shot, I see why it remains an “American classic that everyone should read,” according to commonsensemedia.com.

“The Catcher in the Rye”  remains on the American Library Association’s list of the most “challenged” books by would-be cencors.

The theme of this book makes it a good read. Innocence and growing-up are, of course, things everyone goes through. It may be different for others but we all go through it. This book illustrates the 16-year-old protagonist Holden Caulfield’s problems with the prospect of growing up. He thinks most people are artificial or, as Caulfield puts it, “phony.” Holden is basically a closed-off kid who engages in rebellious acts such as going to nightclubs when underage, prostitution, flunking out of school and not caring about hardly anything. This makes Holden an interesting and abnormal character.

There is a point to Holden’s folly. It’s another life lesson here about growing up. Stuff happens. Real life isn’t like in the movies (which his brother in Hollywood stands for). Its not scripted. Holden is just living life, or as nowadays people call it YOLO “You only live once.” What Holden is doing may not be what is socially considered correct but it is a part of growing up. In the television show “How I Met Your Mother,” Ted Mosby says, some mistakes are meant to happen.

However Holden is a hard character to understand, let alone relate to. He is quite annoying through out the book and he engages in things that some teenagers do and don’t do. He kind of lives his own teenage life, to simply put it. For me, I was that “teacher’s pet” kid who always got good grades and did the homework. I never went to nightclubs under age, thought about the prostitution world or flunked out of school. It was hard for me to relate to Holden, but a part of me is a little jealous since he went on these adventures.

Another downfall to real life is the language that comes with the “adult life.” The language in this book could be considered vulgar if you’re of a really young age, which is a common point used in debates about the book’s suitability for young students. Cuss are used consistently. Also, if you are extremely religious, “goddamn,” “Jesus Christ” and “Chrissake,” are used quite frequently. I found “goddamn” used about 5 times on one page. That’s just a fair warning.

The language maybe be vulgar but in relation to today’s language it’s really nothing.  If you can get past those certain words, the book is quite an easy read. It could probably take a few hours to read.

Or, if you spaced it out, two or three days for a book about a struggling teenager, a place where we all have been at one time or another.


Grade: A

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