The Catcher in the Rye is a wonderful coming of age story about a young boy named Holden
Caulfield. This brilliant work of art can be classed as the Pride and Prejudice of the 50’s. In it,
young Holden overcomes the egregious problems facing rich white males in the United States.
For example, Holden has been raised in such a dissolute environment that he feels a strong desire
to hire a prostitute. Clearly, not all of us have had to face such a difficult challenge. However,
Caulfield’s innate moral compass leads him to refrain from sexual encounters; instead, he
chooses to spend his time philosophizing and critiquing others who engage in less honorable
practices. Caulfield deals with the ramifications of living in a boarding school; it’s quite
comparable to similar epochal works such as Gossip Girl which also deal with the cultural
difficulties wealthy socialites face. For me, the beauty of The Catcher in the Rye is this: Holden
Caulfield physically and verbally fights others, which mirrors the metaphorical battle he
undergoes to free himself from the chains of white privilege. However, The Catcher in the Rye is
not perfect. It struggles to adequately deal with family life; Caulfield’s few family interactions
are primarily with his sister. These limited insights fail to provide a full insight into the classic
American family, which is what I was led to expect when I picked up the book. Naturally,
because it was not what I expected based off of the cover, I must penalize it slightly.
Furthermore, Phoebe suffers as a character because she comes off as overbearing; also, no
younger sister would have the temerity to chastise her older sibling. Thus, the nuclear family
presented by Salinger does not accurately reflect the accepted family structure in the United
States. However, The Catcher in the Rye generally matched exactly what I think life is like, all
while speaking to me on a deeply personal level.
Final Rating: 4 ½ ★
A satire written by Ryan C.
April is the cruelest month, breeding/ Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/ Memory and desire, stirring/ Dull roots with spring rain.
-T. S. Eliot
R2: The Rice Review
Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.