Catcher in the Rye Why it is a Catch
Some books, such as sleazy Wal-Mart romances, are dead as soon as they hit the shelves. These books are food for landfills, and probably remain in the hearts of only two people: the author and the 60 year old hermit woman who waits, with mossy teeth for her Fabio to swing from the vines of the book's cover (Tarzan call and all) and rescue her from soap operas and loneliness. But, there are books that pop every once in a while that last for generations. These books sit proud in the "classics" section and differ from the Wal-Mart paperbacks in that they have universal themes.
Universal themes keep the lifeblood pumping in a literary work because all readers of all generations of all races of all cultures and all sexes can relate. The only criteria is this: that you be human and you have human emotions. Shakespeare's works, for example, contain universal themes and they still have the ability to electrify readers' veins today.
J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye is one of these proud classics and is so because it can speak to the masses of all generations and peoples. One major theme of universality in this book is the coming of age. Though his slang words may be dated, Holden's story still shows the experience and emotion that modern teenagers go through today. With a few exceptions, the details of Holden's story could just as easily have been set today.
Holden Caulfield is the protagonist and narrator of the book. In the book's opening, Holden is a 16-year-old junior at a school named Pencey Prep. Holden has just been expelled for academic failure. Holden is actually very intelligent and sensitive, however he narrates his story in a cynical, lack-jawed voice. Though he never says...