The Next Chapter – Rereading Catcher


One of the books my mother suggested I read was J. D. Salinger’s classic tale of teenage angst, The Catcher in the Rye. I really related to Holden Caulfield, who is the main character and narrator. He was a kid who saw through the “phoniness” of adults. The book tells of his lost weekend in Manhattan during post-war Manhattan. Holden leaves the prep school that he’s being kicked out of and lives in a room in a shabby hotel. He goes dancing, hires a prostitute but then only wants to talk, goes on a date with Sally, who he insults when she refuses to run away with him and he sneaks into his sister Pheobe’s room, where she tells her that he wants to be a catcher in the rye, saving children from falling off the field of rye and become an adult. Eventually, Holden winds up in a mental ward, where he narrates his story.

I was lucky to have the chance to reread the book a couple of years ago when I was in my 50’s. I was able to see the book from a different perspective. Many times through the book he says he’s depressed. In fact, he says at one point he would jump from the roof from his hotel, but he didn’t want people to stare at his dead body. I saw that Holden never got over the death of his younger brother Allie from Leukemia. Suddenly, I didn’t see Holden as an anti-hero or someone to emulate, as I did in teens, but as a kid having a nervous breakdown. It made sense that he wound up in a mental ward. I read the same book but 40 years later I saw it with fresh eyes.

So is Holden the kid who sees through adults or is he a kid having a nervous breakdown. Will the real Holden Caulfield stand up!

As always, I appreciate your feedback. Let me know what you thought of  The Catcher in the Rye. I know some people who don’t “get” or appreciate this book as much as I do. Let me know what you think.

Later and happy reading, everyone!

9 thoughts on “The Next Chapter – Rereading Catcher”

  1. I love rereading classics at later ages. For example, “Romeo & Juliet” is a totally different play now that I’m the age of the mother. Some day I’ll be the Nurse, and it will change again… Nice to know we grow up eventually…

    1. It’s funny how the book hasn’t changed but your reaction to it may have altered drastically.

  2. I think you have inspired me to read it again. Like you, I initially read this when I was very young.

  3. I agree that books change through the years, as our perspectives, experiences, sensibilities do as well. One thing that is striking to me, however, is that books that have had a great impact when I was young continue to matter decades later. They touch me differently, perhaps, but they remain powerful in some way. I haven’t read Catcher since the 60s, but you have reminded me that maybe I should. Thanks!

    1. I was surprised by the differences I saw in the book, reading it in my 50’s. I like rereading books I’ve had a special connection to and noticing the difference.

  4. Thanks everyone. I was curious how I would react to reading Catcher in the Rye when I was in my 50’s as opposed to my teen years. I found it to be a completely different book than I remembered it. And yet it’s the same book!

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