16 July 1951: publication of “The Catcher in the Rye”


“The Catcher in the Rye”,  the famous novel by Jerome David Salinger. was published in 1951, at a time when American industrial economy was making the nation prosperous, and rooted social rules served as a code of conformity for the young generations.
The use of slang and profanity and the discussion of adolescent sexuality seemed to offend many readers and the novel provoked great controversy when it was released.
On the other hand, the book appealed to a great number of people because it dealt with teenage rebellion, anxiety and alienation , along with innocence, identity, belonging, loss, and connection.

The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Holden Caulfield has become an icon for teenage revolt. He is a sixteen-year-old boy who has just been expelled from school. He is intelligent and sensitive, and narrates in a cynical and weary voice, using the teenage colloquial speech of the time, with the use of “old” to indicate familiarity, “phony” to refer to acting in  a certain way only to change other people’s opinion or “that killed me”  when something is found comical or astonishing.

We follow the flow of his thoughts, in a process where ideas and episodes seem disjointed; and throughout the story, his cynicism and eccentric thoughts reflect his alienation and, maybe, depression.

The title derives from Holden’s only true aspiration: to catch children from falling into the depths of adulthood.


Here are 5 quotes from the novel:

Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

“I am always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”

“It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.”

“I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.”



5 thoughts on “16 July 1951: publication of “The Catcher in the Rye”

  1. As a teenager I can totally see myself understanding Holden Caulfield struggle but as an adult he just sounds whiny and annoying however I’m glad I read this book. It’s worth reading at least once.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I read this book as a teenager and hated it.

    I remember struggling to write the analysis on it in a way my teacher would grade me well for, the entire time thinking myself a “phony” but a “phony” who needed scholarships to go to college!

    Liked by 1 person

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