Sitzbook: "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Animal Farm"

I was going to write “George Orwell’s Animal Farm and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye,” but I guess that’s pretty obvious for a caption.
This will be a quick glance at two books that I took from Angela when she wasn’t looking. I think she got them for Christmas. They’re both “classics” that you may have had to read in school (I know I did), but that mere fact shouldn’t turn you off to either of them, since they’re both great books. And they’re also super-fast reads, ideal for a Sitzbook-like project.
Anyhow, I’d read these two books before, as I mentioned, and in fact I think I may have even read them both at least two times before. In the past I almost never reread a book since I always had so many unread ones that I wanted to get through, but now I’m starting to see the value in it. It’s also interesting to see that I marked some passages in Angela’s copy of Catcher in the Rye, but when I was going to enter them in my “Quotes” document, I realized that I’d already typed one of the same passages a few years ago, apparently –at least I’m consistent with my good taste!
I don’t have much to say about George Orwell’s Animal Farm since I actually read it just last year for Sitzbook, but that time it was in Spanish. This time it was back to the original English. It’s still a good, concise parable, and I love trying to think back to my 8th grade Geography class to remember which group of people each animal character was supposed to represent. If you’ve not read Animal Farm or 1984 (also a masterpiece), then it’s high time you did. Same with Catcher. These books have been analyzed and talked about countless times by countless people, so today I just wanted to throw in my two cents and mention that I liked them.
I’ll also share a few quotes that I liked from Catcher in the Rye. The first two are by the book’s narrator, Holden Caulfield. The first one is also the quote that I mentioned that I had marked in multiple version of the book. (As a side note, if I’ve read and marked multiple version of this book, and then forgotten that I read and marked them, doesn’t that make me a bit psychotic like Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory?) Who cares –it’s quote time:
“Finally, though, I got undressed and got in bed. I felt like praying or something, when I was in bed, but I couldn’t do it. I can’t always pray when I feel like it. In the first place, I’m sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don’t care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was alive, there were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting him down. I like almost anybody in the Bible better than the Disciples. If you want to know the truth, the guy I like best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times as much as the Disciples, that poor bastard. I used to get in quite a few arguments about it, when I was at Whooton School, with this boy that lived down the corridor, Arthur Childs. Old Childs was a Quaker and all, and he read the Bible all the time. He was a very nice kid, and I liked him, but I could never see eye to eye with him on a lot of stuff in the Bible, especially the Disciples. He kept telling me that if I didn’t like the Disciples, then I didn’t like Jesus and all. He said that because Jesus picked the Disciples, you were supposed to like them. I said I knew He picked them, but that He picked them at random. I said He didn’t have time to go around analyzing everybody. I said I wasn’t blaming Jesus or anything. It wasn’t His fault that He didn’t have any time. I remember I asked old Childs if he thought Judas, the one that betrayed Jesus and all, went to Hell after he committed suicide. Childs said certainly. That’s exactly where I disagreed with him. I said I’d bet a thousand bucks that Jesus never sent old Judas to Hell. I still would, too, if I had a thousand bucks. I think any one of the Disciples would’ve sent him to Hell and all—and fast, too—but I’ll bet anything Jesus didn’t do it.”
The second is one that hints at Holden’s discontent with conformity and the possible life he may find himself leading in the future:
“I said no, there wouldn’t be marvelous places to go to after I went to college and all. Open your ears. It’d be entirely different. We’d have to go downstairs in elevators with suitcases and stuff. We’d have to phone up everybody and tell ‘em good-by and send ‘em postcards from hotels and all. And I’d be working in some office, making a lot of dough, and riding to work in cabs and Madison Avenue buses, and reading newspapers, and playing bridge all the time, and going to the movies and seeing a lot of stupid shorts and coming attractions and newsreels. Newsreels. Christ almighty. There’s always a dumb horse race, and some dame breaking a bottle over a ship, and some chimpanzee riding a goddam bicycle with pants on. It wouldn’t be the same at all. You don’t see what I mean at all.”
Finally, here’s a quote that I’d marked on a previous reading, but I also noticed it this time around. It’s when Holden’s old teacher, Mr. Antolini, is giving him advice about the future:
“‘All right. Listen to me a minute now…I may not word this as memorably as I’d like to, but I’ll write you a letter about it in a day or two. Then you can get it all straight. But listen now, anyway.’ He started concentrating again. Then he said, ‘This fall I think you’re riding for—it’s a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn’t permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement’s designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn’t supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn’t supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started. You follow me?'”
So, dear reader, don’t give up looking, whatever it is you’re looking for!
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
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2 thoughts on “Sitzbook: "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Animal Farm"

  1. Awesome!! These are both “classics” for good reason.

    Speaking of Orwell, I’m re-reading “1984” myself. I just finished “The Hunger Games” which is just full of similar dystopian ideas. Interesting parallels.

  2. That’s a good series to complement Orwell! Have you seen the Hunger Games movie? We liked it. We saw it after reading the books and, of course, the movies are never as good as the books, but we thought it was pretty faithful.

    Also, did you ever see the 1984 movie with the guy from Alien (the one out of whose chest said alien pops)? I think his name is John Hurt. Anyhow, that’s a really good adaptation of the book, too.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

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