Catcher in the Rye by Jerome Salinger is based on a 16-year-old young man. The story takes place in New York, where the main character, seventeen-year-old Holden Caulfield, has many friends. He was kicked out of Pencey Prep, along with two other schools before that, and is afraid to go home and tell his parents.
He was supposed to leave Pencey Prep on a Wednesday and finish out the semester, and then go home during Christmas break. Instead, he leaves a few days earlier and ventures out into New York City. The story focuses on the people he meets and the places he goes. Throughout the story, Holden has many flashbacks where he remembers the past and tries to make sense of the present using the knowledge he gained through his past experiences. He visits many actual places such as Central Park, The American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Holden is an adolescent boy on the edge of adulthood, and he is trying to make sense of his life and where he stands in it. The literary element of characterization played a major role in this novel. There were not many well-developed characters, but Holden was so well developed that you didn’t need the other characters to make the story work. While reading the story, it felt as though the reader was part of the story, hearing the sounds that Holden heard, and feeling as though you were in the same place at the same time. One critic said, A human being had been created out of ink, paper, and imagination.” Holden was very well-rounded and three-dimensional.
Also, with him being the narrator, you could tell what he was thinking at every moment. That brought the other characters to life. The narrator would express his opinions of them, and then the reader could see them the same way Holden was seeing them, not as if they were looking at them through their own eyes. The way Holden related situations and events to everyday things in life made things much clearer to the reader and made it easier to understand why he thought the way he did on certain issues. The theme of Catcher In The Rye can be stated in the following statement: life is not always fair, and people are not always fair, but you should try to make the best of everything. Holden knew quite a few people, and some of them he didn’t like, but he was always nice to them and never tried to intentionally hurt them.
When he got kicked out of Pencey Prep, he didn’t develop a negative attitude and turn against everyone. He just moved on with his life and pursued other things. Additionally, while in New York City, he couldn’t afford to stay in the best motels, but he didn’t complain. Instead, he tried to make the best of the situation and spent as little time as possible in the hotel room.
Holden is the type of person who would want to be someone’s good friend, with the exception of his bad language and drunkenness. For the most part, he had a very positive outlook on life and people in general. He tried to see the good in people, even when there wasn’t any to be known. The way the main character was portrayed in this novel makes you believe that the theme is mainly to make the best of what you have. This holds true in the following statement: The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, but they just make the best of everything.”