What happens in "The Catcher in the Rye"?
Over the course of three days, a rich kid who can't stop getting expelled from every school he attends wanders around Manhattan trying to get (1) drunk and (2) lucky.
No, it's not the plot of an unreleased Gossip Girl season (RIP). It's the plot of Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger's beloved, banned, reviled, worshiped, and—well, let’s just say polarizing 1951 novel about a depressed prep school boy with a heart of gold.
Chuck Bass, meet your worst nightmare.
After rocketing almost immediately to the top of the bestseller lists, The Catcher in the Rye began its run on the banned books list. Not that we’re surprised by this (profanity, sex, alcohol abuse, prostitution—need we go on?), but we are a little surprised that it’s also so common in high school English classes. Is there’s something more going on than the ramblings of a depressed and admittedly immature sixteen- or seventeen-year-old?
Boy (as Holden would say) is there.
Reaching all the way back to the coming-of-age Bildungsroman tradition, The Catcher in the Rye is a book about a teenager trying to find a way to be true to himself while growing up in a world full of phonies—and a book about post-World War II America burrowing into the “phoniness” of consumerism while trying to pretend that the trauma of the atomic bomb didn’t happen. No wonder The Catcher in the Rye ended up…