Holden Caulfield, 17-year-old boy who goes to a boarding school, gets kicked out of the academy due to his poor grades. He plans to leave the campus and head to New York before the vacation, so that his family would not notice. For the duration before he leaves, he gets into huge quarrel with his roommate, Stradlater. An awkward relationship compels Holden to leave the place earlier than his planned date. After he reaches the hotel in New York, Holden has the interesting experience of seeing a “very distinguished-looking guy” taking “out all women’s clothes, and put[ting] them on”, and “a man and a woman squirting water out of their mouths at each other.” This is a simple summary of the first hundred pages that I’ve read.
“Such an unique novel.” This thought came to my mind after I started reading the book, “The Catcher in the Rye.” “Unique” may sound vague, and some may ask why I chose this word for description. It is simply because there was some distinguishing factor this novel had that I never seen in other books. The way the protagonist narrated the story allowed this novel to strengthen its originality. Holden’s narration is more conversational compared to majority of other novels which often follow certain plot and use formal language. In comparison, Holden talked almost always in an informal language, using words such as [deleted], [deleted] and [deleted] frequently. He also often did not follow the flow of the book, and jumped on to a different topic. These distinguishing factors which may sound puzzling to the readers, actually made the story so much easier, interesting, and enjoyable to read.
As I have stated above, this book was viewed from the first person. This was one thing that I enjoyed since it gives the reader a realistic vision of what Holden feels, sees, senses, and observes as he goes through various experiences. Furthermore, Holden gives so much background information as he explains his life experiences. This was another interesting part of reading since it was not written like a typical book stating the details, but was written in such way that attracts the audience. For instance, when Holden talked about baseball in his narration, he suddenly changed the topic to his past younger brother who was very intelligent and loved to play baseball. Like this, this story was not formed on top of the background information, but was developed as the story flowed.
During the first part of the story, my impression of the main character, Holden Caulfield, is that he is slow and dim, which is how he explains about himself. The fact that he had failed five subjects obviously proves his stupidity in his academic learning. However, seeing the words he uses in his narration as well as his attitudes towards people made me think that he may be consciously making himself look stupid. In order to find out more about Holden as a character, I will need to be keep on reading, though.
There was one factor which made me very interested in Holden: the fact that he barely talked about people in positive way. For instance, when he describes people at the school including Stradlater and Ackley, and other faculty members, he talks in such negative way, using many words that makes the readers see those character in a negative way. The only people he talks positively about are his younger sister, Phoebe, and his brother, Allie, who passed away due to leukemia. As I noticed these differences, it flickered through my mind that this may have something to do with the fact that he prefers to be alone at school, separating himself from his friends, as if he is trying to stymie himself from establishing friendship with them.
Again, these factors in the book bring me back to the word “unique.” The characters, their personalities, narration, and the stories — everything was new and unique for me. And I’m excited to find out more about Holden and his story as I continue reading this book.