The Catcher in the Rye – A look back


Weeks ago I discussed my experience when I first read Catcher in the Rye. I loved Holden when I was 15 and hated the kid when I was 20.

Now, a little older and a tad bit wiser, not to mention a father of two teenagers, I was curious how I would view Holden the third time around.

The results were interesting.

Before I started I had planned on taking a lot of notes and at the beginning I did but I soon discovered it took away my concentration and overall feel of Holden and his journey.

So I decided to read it like any other book, give it some thought and write my conclusion in the most honest way I know how.

Keep in mind this is simply my opinion of this young man and my conclusions can be as right as it is wrong but regardless of right or wrong I saw him through a father’s eyes.

My eyes, that is.

The book was published in 1951. I read somewhere it took JD Salinger about a decade to write it but I pretended the days spent with Holden were from the year it was published.

1951 America was a conservative time. It was post World War 2. We were involved in the Korean War and the threat of communism had dug itself into the heart of most Americans.

I wasn’t around in the 50’s but I have a feeling the way people dealt with emotions, particularly the loss of a loved one is far different than the way we handle it today.

In today’s world we are much more open, our feelings are expressed and encouraged but in 1951 something tells me the opposite took center stage.

The story was told in Holden’s words. He had an older brother, a young brother and the youngest, a sister.

His little brother Allie died in 1946 of leukemia. He was eleven years old. This tragic event made me believe that this was the heart of the story.

JD 2

Most of Holden’s grief was dealt with internally. I kept getting the impression the family swept their emotions under the rug resulting in a volcano ready to erupt.

The older brother lived in California, Holden was sent off to college in New York City while leaving his little sister behind. The story opens with Holden being expelled for bad grades and I feel his bad grades were calculated.

He wants to go home to grieve and to protect his little sister from death. 

I can understand why the book was shocking for its time. He questioned religion, talked about sex and used lots of profanity. All of this taboo in 1951.

JD 3

Most of the topics Holden discussed were whispered behind closed doors in the 50’s. I can’t help but wonder if people saw themselves when they first read it and were ashamed or embarrassed at what they saw.

If this book were written today I doubt it would have received the same attention it did back then. But that’s a good thing. It shows how much we have grown.

As a father I wanted to tell this young man to stop running. Embrace your emotions, Holden. Cry. Take care of your little sister and never be ashamed of anything.

You deserve the right to miss your little brother, to protect those you love and to be mad at death for what it did to you and your family.

In other words get it out. Scream from the roof top and tell the world how angry you are that the grim reaper took away your little brother.

I’m happy I read it again. I now have a new appreciation for JD Salinger and the courage he displayed. I have a feeling it became a trying time for him once the book became popular.

This might explain why he became a recluse.

As for Holden, I’ll come to my conclusion some other time on what I feel happened to him in later years. If there’s ever a fan fiction that needs to be written this is it.

JD 1


Happy Friday Everyone!!!!  

17 thoughts on “SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

    1. I often wonder if Salinger regretted writing it. Given the time it was published it may have changed his entire focus on the craft.

      Thank you. Happy to see you liked my review.


  1. Wow Bryan, this wonderful synopsis and your view of Holden makes me want to read it again, just to see if now as an adult my view of the books characters have “matured” or if I see them in an entirely different complexion. I did this recently with Jane Eyre, and let me tell you, I hadn’t read that book in almost fifteen years and I definitely saw or felt the characters differently than I did in high school or in my twenties.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s fascinating how books change right alone with us, isn’t it. We see them in a different light because we have moved into a different light.

      I didn’t read a lot when I was a kid and I wish I did. That’s why this one sticks out so much. You need to do a post on Jane Eyre the way I did this one. I’d like to read what you experienced.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t either but the first two times I read it I had never experienced loss. Now that I have it struck me and I could feel it right along with him.


  3. Wow. Just wow.
    It’s just amazing to read something from a neutral pov, you know considering the times, keeping everything in mind .
    And then the part where you were speaking as a father was simply real. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. I tried to focus on the time. American in the 50’s was a time where if you went against the grain you had to fight for it. I feel we’re witnessing that in this novel.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Books are a great way to know what was it like.
        I was eager to read this post(I’m for all, though) because it shows how your opinions have evolved over the years but tbh, as an Indian I cannot do much except go online and read/watch what others say to know about 50’s in America or whenever for that matter.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I never considered going back and reading something I read in high school. I do not think I ever read this. I will add it to my list. I enjoyed your perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi. Thanks for stopping by. The shock value that people had in 1951 will not be the same today. That’s why I feel many people missed the message. If you read it try to keep in mind the period it was written in.


  6. I was moved by your empathy and compassion for Holden.
    Great review of this classic novel, I’ve not read it and I’m not sure I can bring myself to read it.
    Me and my brother and sisters internalised our mother’s death.22 years later it’s still a difficult subject for us.
    You’re a warm, loving father and your children are lucky to have you. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lorraine, thank you. You are such a kind person.

    I understand where you are coming from when losing someone. Mine came in 1990 and sometimes I feel it happened yesterday.

    I agree with your thoughts of avoiding this novel. I don’t blame you.


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