The Catcher in the Rye is a book of omnipresent dilapidation of human character. Reading it through its initial chapters, I couldn’t really understand why it was taught in schools and why so many people loved it so much. The first five chapters were boring, “depressing,” and they seemed to lack direction. It wasn’t until later in the book that I realized what direction the book was actually heading in.
This book has a very unconventional style of writing, especially considering the time period during which it was written. The protagonist in this book is not a highly relatable person, and this may seem a little off putting since readers love to be able to relate to the characters in the book. But even though the protagonist, Holden, isn’t especially relevant to an ordinary person, Salinger has still managed to make his entirety very tangible.
Holden reciprocates accentuated teenage angst and alienation; the want of fitting in and the torment of not being able to. Taken from a literary point of view, this accentuation in itself serves to be an extended metaphor for the very stage of adolescence.
The Catcher in the Rye does not revolve around a definite plot, but instead, it evolves around definitive human emotions. The book follows Holden through his mental labyrinth of trying to find himself and what he really wants to be; it traces concepts of emotional voids, depression, and liberation through a narrative pattern. Something from within the book that describes the book perfectly is this quote:
“The man falling isn’t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling.”
That is pretty much the gist of the book. You can hear Holden fall, you can very well feel him falling, but you just have to keep waiting until he can hear it too.