Review: ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ Chapters 8-11

We all have something to hide. Sometimes we try to keep secrets buried within our souls and locked away from prying eyes. As I have come to find, Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher in the Rye” is no exception.

On Wednesday, my AP Lang class had a discussion about the book and what we had read so far. Typically, our discussions consist of four people who raise their hands for every question, and it is more of Ms. Fay talking to us rather than an actual class discussion.

For the first time of the year, our class had a solid, deep and well executed discussion. The more we talked with each other, the deeper the content of the discussion went. As embarrassing as it may be to say, being able to really discuss the book with other people who seem to understand it thrilled me.

As I had noticed at the start of reading this book, a divide was splitting the classroom. Now, people had fully chosen their sides. Some people I expected to stand by the book, to be able to relate to it. However, I was quite shocked by some people. As it seems, people who have faced hard times or been around and through struggles are able to relate to Holden while those who are lucky enough to have avoided such problems are incapable of understanding him.

I let the conversation carry on, throwing my opinion out into the open when I found it necessary (which was a lot of the time). People who could not understand Holden criticized him in every way. They hated his arrogance, his personality flaws and, ironically, the way he criticizes everything. I began laughing to myself at this concept. The more the class talked about Holden, the more like Holden they were becoming.

In these last few chapters, Holden is excessively critical of everything related to being an adult. On the other hand, he is extremely defensive of anything related to his childhood. This shows an otherwise hidden aspect of Holden’s personality. Being only 17 (16 when these events had taken place), Holden is stuck between childhood and being an adult. He cannot make the tricky transition of ages, likely due to his inability to make connections with people. He keeps a distance from both his past and future. As much as he loves his memories and the people in them, he refuses to meet with anyone from his past. Meeting them would tarnish this memory and further devastate Holden.

This internal conflict alone could cause suffering to one’s mental state. Yet Holden also has to deal with neglect, death and loneliness among other things. It seems that people who hate Holden hate him for one of two reasons: either they just cannot possibly understand him or they see themselves within him and are trying to distance themselves from him.

No matter what, I am positive that this book will be one that stays within us. Like it or not, it will remained buried within me for some time after finishing it. I know that myself, along with some others, will keep it in our hearts forever. I just wish everyone was able to do the same.