Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Catcher in the Rye

by J.D. Salinger

I try to read at least one classic novel a year and it has really been fun. I like to talk to people I know and ask them what their favorite classic novels are and then try to read those. My younger brother told me that his favorite was “the Catcher in the Rye.” I just finished reading it. It was very different. One criticism I have is that there was a lot of swearing and cussing. I am probably naïve, but for a book written in 1945, I was surprised at that.

The story pretty much takes place over a period of about 3 days. I think the point of it was that this teenage boy who is telling the story is actually experiencing a nervous breakdown as the result of losing his brother previously to an untimely death. The boy doesn’t know that he is even in any trouble emotionally. That seemed insightful to me because I think a lot of children are like that. They could be having “emotional issues” and they don’t even know it. They are not self aware enough to recognize that something is wrong in their mind. They don't "know thyself" as the ancient Greeks used to say.

If you have read "the Catcher in the Rye," tell me, do you think I got the point of it? It did sort of leave me wondering as to what exactly the author was trying to say. I suppose some people find that inscrutable quality in a novel very compelling; I did.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”
It was actually a quote from a psychologist named Wilhelm Stekel that a teacher in the story quotes.

So what is your favorite classic novel?


  • 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte.

    I don't want to hear anybody say 'Jane Eyre' by her sister is better!

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 10/06/2008 2:03 PM  

  • Matthew,
    I have seen that movie so many times it seems like the book would have lost the "edge" of suspense if I were to read it. But if it is that good, maybe someday...

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/06/2008 3:26 PM  

  • 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' by Thomas Hardy. I'm reading his 'Jude the Obscure' at the moment.

    Next choice would be 'Jane Eyre.' ;-)

    By Blogger Missy, at 10/06/2008 4:12 PM  

  • I tried to read this novel many, many years ago...but I just couldn't get through it.

    My favorite book of all time was by Lewis Padget called, "Robots Have No Tales."


    By Blogger Joe, at 10/06/2008 8:30 PM  

  • Howdy Rose! (Do I get brownie pernts fer follerin' the rules??)

    Bro. Matthew,

    If I don't actually say out loud, that '"Jane Eyre" by her sister is better,' but just type it in silently, is that acceptable??

    Just funnin' anyway, I've never read either one. Not a novel fan. God Bless y'all!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at 10/06/2008 9:08 PM  

  • Hello Rose~

    Cry the Beloved Country

    "Who indeed knows the secret of the earthly pilgrimage? Who indeed knows why there can be comfort in a world of desolation?"

    Perhaps not a classic in the sense of "old", but a classic in the impact it had on me when I read it.

    "Pain and suffering, they are a secret. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering."

    I will put Catcher in the Rye on my list~

    By Blogger Aletheia, at 10/06/2008 10:31 PM  

  • PS thank you for introducing me to Vladimir Kush

    whimsy, whimsy, whimsy

    By Blogger Aletheia, at 10/06/2008 10:33 PM  

  • Growing up, my favorite novel was "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson. It still ranks up there pretty high for me.

    By Anonymous GordonCloud, at 10/07/2008 1:25 AM  

  • Hi Rose!

    Novels? Do they have lots of pictures? I'd be lost without those.
    (you know us blue-collar types) :-)

    By Blogger mark pierson, at 10/07/2008 8:24 AM  

  • Missy,
    Wow, that title is a mouthful. :~)

    Yeah, it was hard to get through. You are just reading the boys thoughts so you have no outsider to tell you that he is breaking down, but you come to figure it out by the end of the book... that is, if I got it right.

    Hello David Wyatt!
    You don't need brownie points, being already held in such high regard. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/07/2008 9:10 AM  

  • Welcome Aletheia!
    That is an interesting name. That sounds like quite an interesting book. I am glad I solicited you all for titles. Now when I want soemthing to read I can refer to these comments. I am glad you appreciate the surrealistic whimsy of Vladimir.

    Hi Gordon,
    We have that in our house but I have never read it. (My husband got it for my son.) I will have to remember that. thanks

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/07/2008 9:14 AM  

  • Hi Mark,
    It is good to read novels once in a while. I am sure you could even find one with pictures if you wanted. Come on, what's yer favorite?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/07/2008 9:15 AM  

  • Novel's? I did not even know how to spell the word without refering back to your post. :-)

    By Blogger mark pierson, at 10/07/2008 11:05 AM  

  • Hi Rose!

    I don't know that I have a favorite? There are many that I liked. 'Tom Jones' was fun, 'Moby Dick' engrossing, 'the Three Musketeers' a little too frivolous, 'Of Human Bondage' a little too, well, let's just say I can clearly remember the first few words of the book, "the day broke dull and gray" - and I thought that was a fitting summary of the book. "Crime and Punishment" was deep but twisted, "Don Quixote" was episodic, but quaint too - it was quite interesting to see the character development given that at the time it was written there weren't really such things as novels yet - so you see the transition from a collection of short stories to longer and longer short stories - to a more novel like prose in the second book. One of the most interesting novels, though only considered a "classic" by some, was "Foucault's Pendulum" - very good stuff for conspiracy theory buffs.

    I read the catcher in the rye in high school, and always meant to pick it up again. I only remember that at the time I thought the style and characters were trying to hard to be real, and ended up coming off as over-the-top. But I was a teenager, so my perspective was - "yeah right! Is that how they perceive us?"

    By Blogger Daniel, at 10/08/2008 10:59 AM  

  • Does anybody here read the sports pages of the news paper? Does that count?

    Ya'll are just a tad over mine head, I'm afraid. :-)

    By Blogger mark pierson, at 10/08/2008 12:46 PM  

  • Hello Rose,

    Just browsing, but I have a couple pennies worth to toss in here.

    I think part of the baggage we acquire from church is our expectation that everything must have a point. I mean, we're not really encouraged to do much that doesn't have some sort of agenda or ulterior motive attached to it. I think this is why the arts have grown stale in the church.

    Some art has no other point but to make observation and reflect the human condition. Perhaps, as you suggest in your observation of the un-self awareness of children, the point is to compare art to our realities and recognize the truth in them. It's been a long time since I read Catcher, but I think it accurately portrayed the mind of a child in such a state.

    The way Holden isolates himself from others is a form of self-preservation that I see in people all around me, especially in church. It is perceived as a source of strength and protection, but is, at the same time the root of many of our problems.

    In short, I don't think Salinger was trying to say anything in particular, except to call our attention to this element of humanity, and to, perhaps, help us see it in ourselves.

    I have a number of favorites:
    Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    The Plague by Albert Camus
    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

    By Blogger dorsey, at 10/09/2008 9:26 AM  

  • Mark,
    Yes, novels are for those of us who need a little entertainment every now and then. You read so much more serious material to have time for novels. ;~) ;~) :~)

    Thank you so much for your comment! I was thinking about adding Moby Dick to my list. When I read Catcher in the Rye it never occurred to me that it was trying "too hard to be real." You're right - that probably was your viewpoint because you were a teenager in the 1980s. I thought Salinger did a good and convincing job. 1945 teenagers were a litte different than our generation, which is also a consideration.
    Have a good weekend!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/09/2008 9:51 PM  

  • Dorsey,
    (red carpet rolls out) Welcome to this blog! How nice to have you stop by. I have seen you on KC's Blog for a long time. You must have come over after reading my comment there so you could see if I was a (gasp) "heretic," didn't you?? ;~)

    Now what you say about Salinger is a really good point. Before I started reading CITR I picked up one of his books for 25 cents - it was "9 short stories." I read two of them. They really seemed to have no point. I didn't enjoy them. So what you say about his goal in writing maybe just to reveal the human condition may be just right. I liked CITR, I suppose, because it did seem to have a point to me. I just wasn't exactly sure what it was.

    Also what you said about Holden isolating himself - what an interesting point that I hadn't picked up on. In one incident - the incident with the teacher - he woke up and the teacher was petting his hair and he freaked out, assumed the teacher was a pervert, and ran out of the apartment. Remember that? What's interesting is I just thought, reading it in the year 2008, that the teacher probably was meant to be a pervert. But now I wonder, in 1945, you didn't have this stuff with child molestation so much in the public awareness, so maybe the teacher was really trying to comfort the boy and the boy "isolated himself" like you said. I would love to know that author's intent in that scene!!

    Hey, thanks for visiting :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/09/2008 10:00 PM  

  • "You must have come over after reading my comment there so you could see if I was a (gasp) "heretic," didn't you?? ;~)"

    Heresy loves company. : )

    By Blogger dorsey, at 10/10/2008 7:33 AM  

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