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Barron's Booknotes-The Catcher In the Rye by J. D. Salinger-Free Booknotes/Synopsis
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REFERENCE

THE CRITICS

ON JANE

What he especially liked about Jane was that in checkers she kept her kings in the back row. This has intrigued the critics, but what it seems to represent is a holding back of one's aggressive powers and an unwillingness to enter the competitive game and use them against other people; this is one of Holden's cherished values, and in his case, his bane as well. Gerald Rosen, Zen in the Art of J. D. Salinger, 1977

HOLDEN AND HUCK FINN

This novel's exciting resemblances to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have been justly noted by a number of critics-the comic irony, the colloquial language, the picaresque structure and the theme of anti-phoniness and it is not inconceivable that someday Holden Caulfield may be as well known an American boy as Huck Finn. For a reader goes through much the same pattern of relishing both boys: first it is the release provided by their rebellion from society, then the inspiration of their honesty against sham, and then the sympathetic awareness of their melancholy roles. Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph Blotner, The Fiction of J. D. Salinger, 1964

SALINGER'S LOVE OF CHILDREN

Holden can only find genuine love in children, who have not learned the deadening rituals of pretense. Dan Wakefield, in Henry A. Grunwald, Salinger, A Critical and Personal Portrait, 1962

In one of his few published comments, Salinger has said of The Catcher: "I'm aware that many of my friends will be saddened and shocked, or shocked- saddened, over some of the chapters in The Catcher in the Rye. Some of my best friends are children. In fact, all my best friends are children. It's almost unbearable for me to realize that my book will be kept on a shelf out of their reach." David Leitch, in Henry A. Grunwald, Salinger, A Critical and Personal Portrait, 1962


THE NEED TO LOVE

The response of these outsiders (Holden and Phoebe, for instance) to the dull or angry world about them is not simply one of withdrawal: it often takes the form of a strange quixotic gesture. The gesture, one feels for sure, is the bright metaphor of Salinger's sensibility, the center from which meaning derives and ultimately the reach of his commitment to past innocence and current guilt.... There is often something prodigal and spontaneous about it, something humorous or whimsical, something that disrupts our habits of gray acquiescence and revives our faith in the willingness of the human spirit. But above all, it gives as only a religious gesture can.... In another age, Cervantes endowed Don Quixote with the capacity to perform it and so did Twain and Fitzgerald endow their best creations... the young man who insists on giving half a chicken sandwich to a stranger. Ihab Hassan, in Henry A. Grunwald, Salinger, A Critical and Personal Portrait, 1962

HOLDEN AND SOCIETY

In the epilogue to the novel Holden suggests the possibility of re-entering society when he says, "I sort of miss everybody I told you about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice." Holden misses even the phonies of the world because his experience has taught him something about the necessity of loving, and here Salinger sounds what is to become his major and most complex theme. David D. Galloway, The Absurd Hero in American Fiction, 1966

A LYRIC MONOLOGUE

The Catcher in the Rye, despite its brilliance of observation and the virtuosity with which Salinger keeps Holden Caulfield's monologue going for the length of a novel, is primarily concerned neither with the working out of a plot nor the development of a character. It is a lyric monologue in which the complex feelings of an essentially static character are revealed. For all Salinger's skill, The Catcher in the Rye has a claustrophobic and, at the same time, random quality. Arthur Mizener, in Henry A. Grunwald, Salinger, A Critical and Personal Portrait, 1962

A PORTRAIT OF OURSELVES

Rather than wishing quarterly significance or "greatness" on him [Salinger], we can be content to take him for what he is: a beautifully deft, professional performer who gives us a chance to catch quick, half-amused, half-frightened glimpses of ourselves and our contemporaries, as he confronts us with his brilliant mirror images.

David L. Stevenson, In Henry A. Grunwald, Salinger, A Critical and Personal Portrait, 1962

SALINGER, THE OUTSIDER

The only thing that Salinger does not do for this audience is to meet with them. Holden Caulfield said in The Catcher in the Rye that "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." It is well for him that all the people in this country who now regard J. D. Salinger as a "terrific friend" do not call him up and reach him. Alfred Kazin, "J. D. Salinger: Everybody's Favorite," The Atlantic Monthly, August 1961

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