Sitzmedia: "The Catcher In The Rye"

So last weekend I re-read “The Catcher in the Rye.” I think it had been about 10 years since I’d read it, and I was surprised how much I liked it. I guess I was surprised because at the root of it, it’s basically about nothing. I guess it was a trailblazer for “Seinfeld.”

In any case, if you’ve not read it, it’s a novel written as a first-person narrative. The protagonist is Holden Caulfield, and he’s essentially a high school flunk-out that boozes, chain-smokes, and has a pretty pissy view of basically everything and everyone around him. In short, it’s hilarious. In any case, I picked out a few passages that I liked. I’ll put up one today and one tomorrow.

I’m assuming many of you have read it, so feel free to comment on it. I’ve noticed, though, that the books I mention don’t get nearly as many comments as the movies I mention. Who knows why.

Maybe there’s a movie version of “The Catcher in the Rye.”

In any case, here’s my first favorite quote, from p.99-100 (and yes, it’s all one paragraph in the book, so sorry about the formatting; blame J.D. Salinger):

“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.”
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7 thoughts on “Sitzmedia: "The Catcher In The Rye"

  1. I read that book a couple times, too. After a couple reads, you can take a step back from Holden and see him through the other character’s eyes. It’s better the second time around.
    I’ve been on a Burroughs kick lately. “Junky” has been my bathroom reading for about a month now. I’m going to re-read “Cities of the Red Night.” I read it a few years ago and remember having no idea what it was really about. Ever read it?

  2. Yosch,
    That’s a good point about seeing Holden through the other characters. If we’re doing that, though, does he turn out to be just another “phony”?
    Also, I’ve never read Burroughs, but I’ll put him on my list. Any specific recommendations?

  3. This is one of my favorite quotes from good old cynical Holden:

    “The trouble with girls is, if they like a boy, no matter how big a bastard he is, they’ll say he has an inferiority complex, and if they don’t like him, no matter how nice a guy he is, or how big an inferiority complex he has, they’ll say he’s conceited. Even smart girls do it.” — Holden Caulfield, Catcher in the Rye

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