Thoughts On The Catcher In The Rye & Modern Classics

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Begrudgingly I picked up The Catcher in the Rye in June, judging that I wouldn’t enjoy it mainly because of the title “classic” it has bestowed upon it. I have come to think in the last few years that many teenagers and young adults don’t want to pick up the ‘modern classics’ such as The Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies; we’ve somehow been put off them (my guess is having them rammed down our throats during GCSE’s). However I enjoyed delving deeper in to the world of George and Lenny when I was fifteen, so I decided with a little prompt to pick up J.D. Salinger’s most well-known work in preparation for my dissertation next year.

The Catcher in the Rye is a coming of age story based around Holden getting expelled from his fourth school. The few days that follow show Holden’s adventure as he left Pencey School and avoids returning home to tell his parents the news. The first thing I have to say about the book is that I found it absolutely incredible, and much to my surprise it has become one of my favourite books I’ve read in the past year. The imagery conjured from the incredible writing transports you back fifty years and lets you truly experience the world as Holden would. That’s not something that I get from many books now-a-days and it’s something that is highly valued. I won’t go in to a full review of the book because we all know they’ll be hundreds out there.

Admittedly I went in to the novel knowing absolutely nothing about it, I didn’t know the story, characters and had quite a shock when I found out it was only 230 pages long! I personally think a lot of that is down to the education around these types of novels and the pressure young people have to read them.

My opinion always was that you had to be of a higher intelligence to read novels such as The Catcher in the Rye, and I think that most young people hold the same opinion and are put off reading them. Going in to a modern classic can be a daunting experience for some people, worried about how it would be written, if you could relate to the characters and if you’re even going to understand it at all! I suppose the whole point in me saying this was to not be afraid of literature, to not be scared to not understand something. Just read it and make up your own opinions! Don’t sit back and say ‘I won’t be able to read that it’s too difficult for me.’ It’s probably not as scary as you think.

I’m not saying that everybody is absolutely going to be head over heels with The Catcher in the Rye, I know a lot of people who have no interest in it or just completely don’t like the novel. However if you have that little voice in the back of your mind telling you to read something but you keep pushing it away, listen to that little voice! It’s trying to tell you to try new things and not be scared of some words on a page!

At the age of twenty my mind has been opened to a world of modern classics that I would have never thought of before. Although I am a little sad I didn’t join the bandwagon earlier and have missed out on years of stories I could be living in, it’s better late than never!


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