“The Catcher in the Rye”: not really a catch at all

An account of why this book ought to be ignored


Aiden Owen

“The Catcher in the Rye” in its rightful place.

Adah McMillan, Copy and Design Editor

“If you really want to hear about it…” (Pg 3). That’s the first thing Holden, the narrator and main character of The Catcher in the Rye, says in his 277-page waste of time some might call “a novel.” Well, Holden, I don’t want to hear about it.

Holden is a young college student — except he’s not a college student anymore. He’s been kicked out of school because he “was flunking four subjects and not applying [himself] at all” (Pg 6). The one subject he didn’t flunk was English, which I guess he assumed gave him license to write a book.

I posted my first impressions of Holden on Goodreads: “Well, I’m not finished yet, but so far, the main character has done nothing but complain and say the same swear words over and over again. I’m not impressed. This guy better have some character development because BOY does he need it.”

SPOILER ALERT: Holden doesn’t change. He’s still an annoying hypocrite with no direction in life. After leaving college, he has a few days before his parents expect his return for Thanksgiving. How does he spend his time? Loitering around New York City, going to a bar when he’s only sixteen, complaining about girls at the bar, going on a date with an old acquaintance, complaining about that old acquaintance, wishing he could call up a girl he likes, and not calling that girl because he doesn’t want to risk talking to her mom. Oh, and I almost forgot: boring his readers to death. I actually timed my reading and calculated how much longer I would have to suffer before finishing the book.

Believe it or not, I’m finding myself liking the book more that I’m not reading it anymore. This is funny because Holden talks about missing horrible people after not seeing them for a while, which roughly describes my current feelings about the book. Those feelings are still pretty bad, though, if you didn’t notice.

The Catcher in the Rye doesn’t obey the hallowed laws of grammar. Some may argue that this contributes to Holden’s voice,  but as incorrect grammar is a pet peeve of mine, I was constantly dying inside as I read it.

The only thing keeping my rating from one star is Holden’s occasional philosophical thoughts. These offer a nice reprieve from from his usual Cycle of Stupidity and Hatred:

Holden (to “Person”): Hey, let’s do this outrageous, unreasonable, and overall stupid thing together.
Person: Um, no, that’s stupid.
Holden: I hate you for not doing this thing with me.
Person: Well, maybe we could do something like your idea…
Holden: Nevermind, I’m too depressed to do anything anymore.
Person: Fine, be that way. You’re no fun, Holden.
Holden: I hate you and everything and everyone else.

Some tell me I should give Holden a chance because he’s “just a hurt teenage boy with lots of displaced frustration”. (Ahem, Mrs. Hedlun) Well, I don’t want to read about that kind of person. If the teenage boy finds a way to deal with his hurt and frustration instead of doing nothing with his life, great. Otherwise, please keep your nonsense to yourself, Holden.