When I first saw the cover of The Catcher in the Rye, I inferred J.D. Salinger’s book was about ponies, but after reading I realized the story was a lot darker then I originally thought. The main character, Holden, starts the novel off by being expelled from school, motivating him into wandering the streets of New York City alone. Holden meets an assortment of people on his travels around the city, telling the stories of each person he meets. It takes place in the early 1950’s, resulting in many colloquial forms of speech from that time and the lack of law enforcement during the book. I enjoyed the views on life from the aspect of an underdog, one on the bottom of society, telling a story that very few can relate to.
Using allusion, the characters in the book are elaborated and the strength of the climax is increased. The very title of the book comes from a poem written by Robert Burns. Holden is commonly finding works of literature to reference for the sake of telling the story and reads or talks about books on a daily basis in the plot. The books and poems on their own each mean a different view of morality that Holden has. I would recommend looking up all the books mentioned in The Catcher in the Rye online or actually read them to understand how the use of allusion at any point helps the story.
This book plays with ideas that are considered homophobic and sexist to us today, so people that could be offended by such content might want to avoid this book. Holden puts down the female gender often, thinking about them in terms of lust and appearance. It becomes obvious that Holden shows a lack of attention towards the personality of women, discriminating in the worst ways possible. He regularly puts down people of contrasting backgrounds and lives, showing his obliviousness to the world.
I would recommend this book to anyone from high school and above. People that are in middle school probably will not understand or really relate to what Holden is going through. Along with that this book includes many themes regarding lust and sexism, most likely too mature for a young reader to process. I learned many ideas about maturation and society and that helped me grow as a person. But in general I thought the book was fun to read and the large variety of characters always made it interesting.