When I began reading The Catcher in the Rye this summer, I was ready for pure entertainment. I remembered how Holden’s wit and cynicism had made me laugh. I wasn’t disappointed. The beginning of the book is filled with humor. Some of it is laugh-out-loud funny, but most of it is just smile-as-you-read witty. What I wasn’t prepared for is how incredibly depressing the book gets. Once Holden gets to New York City, there’s very little that’s funny and his cynicism has worn on you. All that’s left is this very smart, very depressed teenager, who doesn’t want his kid sister Phoebe (or any other kid) to grow up. There are some endearing moments, mostly with Phoebe, but it is altogether a far more depressing book than I had remembered.
Catcher in the Rye Movie
J.D. Salinger has refused to allow a movie to be made, because the novel is too “novelistic.” It’s too bad, because it would make a great movie. Apparently, Igby Goes Down has a character that is similar to Holden Caulfield, played by Kieran Culkin (Macaulay Culkin’s brother). We’ll have to check that out.
Good Supplemental Stuff
- John Green, Crash Course: Language, Voice, and Holden Caulfield: The Catcher in the Rye Part 1
- John Green, Crash Course: Holden, JD, and the Red Cap- The Catcher in the Rye Part 2
- NY Times Book Review from 1951
Assassins and Catcher in the Rye?
After shooting John Lennon, Mark David Chapman sat down on the sidewalk and read The Catcher in the Rye. Inside it, he’d written “This is my statement. [signed] Holden Caulfield,” whatever that means. Apparently, police found a copy of the book (among other books) in John Hinckley, Jr.’s hotel room after he tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan. And finally, Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory just can’t stop himself from buying copies of The Catcher in the Rye every chance he gets.