While reading through Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye one notices many points of similarity between Holden and other people in the world. Much of what Salinger focuses on in the book, for example the feelings, the experiences, and Holden's wants, are things the reader can relate to and understand. In a sense, Salinger typified the heart and soul of the disillusioned teenager. Yet, it goes deeper than that. Salinger created not just a mish-mash of teenage angst but an archetype that recapitulated every teenager caught between the little games of high school and the fear of adulthood. It's for this reason that I, as with so many other teenagers, can relate to this book.
Although I've always seen this book as a sort of companion, a map through the cliffs of existentialism, The Catcher in the Rye is the book preferred nine times out of ten by nihilists, whackos, and serial killers. I might have read this book a million times but I've never analyzed it from every single perspective. I took this opportunity to look at The Catcher in the Rye from a slightly different perspective. While reading the book this time around I tried to focus only on the negative aspects that could possibly appeal to the aforementioned groups.
On the surface it seems to be the story of a young man's expulsion school and the events that follow, However The Catcher in the Rye is in fact a perceptive study of one individual's understanding of the human condition. Holden Caulfield, a teenager growing up in 1950s New York, has been expelled from school for poor achievement once again. In an attempt to deal with this he leaves school a few days prior to the end of term, and goes to New York to 'take a vacation' before returning to his parents' inevitable wrath. Written in the first person, the book describes Holden's thoughts and activities over these few days, during which he describes a developing nervous breakdown, typified by his bouts of unexplained depression, impulsive spending and generally odd, erratic behavior, prior to his eventual nervous collapse.
During his psychological battle, life continues on around Holden as it always had, with the majority of people ignoring the 'madman stuff' that is happening to him -until it begins to encroach on their well defined social codes.