The Catcher in the Rye:
Chapter 1 and 2:
This book, “The Catcher in the Rye,” was written by J.D. Salinger in 1945. The style in which this book is written is extremely casual and informal. It is narrated by a 17 year old boy from Pennsylvania, called Holden Caulfield. This book gives us an idea about Holden’s perception of the world. It helps us understand his thoughts and his personality in general. It gives us an idea about his views on different matters. Also, the way he handles different situations, helps us to get a rough idea about his persona. This book was written, post World War II in 1945, so in a way, it gives us a brief insight into the social as well as economical conditions of America, after the Second World War.
Holden seems like an extremely cynical person. He has a very pessimistic view of people, in general. Circumstances and certain incidents, lead him to infer that people, in general are judgemental.He doesn’t care much about his future, and so far in the book, he doesn’t come across as someone who is motivated and has a certain drive. He’s got a very negative outlook, towards people and society in general, however, he isn’t depressed or sad.
Holden isn’t studious at all. He has already changed schools four times and he is flunking in his current school as well. He doesn’t seem like the kind of person who gives academics much importance.
Throughout the book, the narrator keeps going back to incidents that have happened in the past. These past references help the reader to understand why Holden behaves the way he does. In the book, time doesn’t move in a systematic, linear manner, but it is rather confusing.
Holden knows himself well. When he answers his history paper, he slips his history teacher a note, saying that it is okay if he fails him as he knows that what he has written in the paper isn’t satisfactory at all. Thus, I conclude that Holden knows his shortcomings and is well aware of the fact that he isn’t academically strong. Also, the circumstances end up being such, that they always make him look irresponsible and negligent. I came to this conclusion, considering, the incident that takes place in the New York City subway. Holden was appointed as the manager of the fencing team and the entire team was supposed to go to New York for a fencing meet with McBurney School. However, they end up returning back to Pencey Prep, without having the meet as Holden forgets all the foils and equipment in the subway. But from Holden’s point of view, this wasn’t entirely his fault as he had to keep taking a look at the map, so he would know where to get off.
Holden does not come across as a very social person and he doesn’t seem like he cares much about getting to know other people or interacting with other people. The only friends that he talks about in the book are Robert Tichener and Paul Campbell. He is especially close to Robert Tichener.
He also mentions, that he liked to be where you could atleast see a few girls, even if they are being extremely candid and simply scratching their arms or blowing their noses or just giggling. This in a way suggests the fact that the way he perceived girls wasn’t improper or demeaning.
Holden is also quite thoughtful and considerate. These aspects of his demeanour are especially highlighted in the second chapter when he talks about Mr. Spencer, his history teacher. In this chapter he mentions how, often, he finds himself thinking about Mr. Spencer. When he falls ill, Holden makes it a point to meet him, as he realizes that he may not be able to see Mr. Spencer very often, considering the fact that he was leaving the school for good.
He comes across as someone who is self-willed. He mentions that one of the biggest reasons that he left, his previous school, Elkton Heights, was because he was surrounded by phonies. According to him, his headmaster, Mr. Haas was the phoniest of them all.