The Catcher in the Rye : A book review


Photo Credit: Anastasia Zenkevich

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is taught at Glen Rock High School

by Anastasia Zenkevich

16-year-old Holden Caulfield is kicked out of an exclusive private school in Pennsylvania called Pencey Prep near the holiday season. Pencey prep is the latest school from which Holden has been expelled. He finds life at Pencey to be dull, expensive and artificial . His reason for expulsion is often a lack of effort.

Although he is not ecstatic to meet his parents, Holden is anxious to leave Pencey as soon as possible. Gathering all of the money that he has, Holden sets off on an adventure in New York, during which he encounters a taxi driver, two nuns, an elevator man, a prostitute, and a former teacher.  The story is told through Holden’s unique voice written by J.D. Salinger in the classic novel The Catcher in the Rye.

Holden is lost, adrift in the world, and mildly insane. His loneliness or quest for compassion is a driving force throughout the book. In the novel, he goes from one meaningless encounter to another trying to cure his loneliness but simultaneously sabotages himself in an attempt to protect his sense of individuality.

Throughout the novel Holden also refers to many people as phonies. He reserves this name for people who are unable to acknowledge their own weaknesses, believe they are something that they are not, lie or are deceitful. However, Holden does fail to see that he himself is a phony. Holden is unable to see the problems within himself, therefore he sees the problems in others and criticizes them for not seeing their own weaknesses.


The coming of age story is an essential document of American adolescence. Holden’s disdain for phonies, sense of being different, and his loneliness make it easy to relate with his teenage angst. Yet he is just as much of a phony as those who he criticizes, making him judgmental, egotistical, and a whiner.  Though these adjectives still describe the majority of today’s youth, Salinger’s novel is an accurate display of the teenage mind.

Salinger’s impersonation of the teenage voice was accurate although slightly frustrating due to its repetitive nature. Still the narration alone should not stop somebody from reading the book. The novel is a refreshing read that tells the reader to stay true to themselves and remain hopeful of the future.