“Holden Caulfield is a very troubled young man running away from the tragedy of his younger brother's death and the percieved 'phoneyness' of everyone. Once again he finds himself expelled from another exclusive high school for not applying himself (he only managed to pass English) but he does not want to return home until the school's Christmas vacation which is yet 3 days away. If he shows up at his parents' apartment before that time they will know he is a failure once again and he is not ready to face them. Instead Holden packs his bags, takes the train into New York City and tries to lose himself in liquor, nightclubs and clumsy sexual encounters. Unfortunately nothing fills the void Holden carries deep in his soul and the reader watches as he falls deeper and deeper into depression.
Holden's explanation of the catcher in the rye touched me deeply. He said that he saw children close to the edge of a precipice and he was below them in a waving field of rye. It was his job to catch them as they fell so they would be safe. It was so obvious that he had longed for someone to catch him as he fell into despair after his brother's death but his mother was too wrapped up in her own grief and his father kept himself overly occupied with his buisness. What a cry for help that was missed.
I want to hug this young man. I really like his character and his emotions that are ready to burst out of him at any minute. I don't always like the things he says but neither does Holden as he is frequently taken aback by his own lies. This is the first book I have read by Salinger and I enjoyed his writing style very much.