Is it a good idea to read „The Catcher in the Rye“ at school?

  • Titel: Is it a good idea to read „The Catcher in the Rye“ at school?
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“The Catcher in the Rye” is a novel by J.D. Salinger, written in 1951, that caused mixed emotions worldwide.

What are the criteria of reading a book in school? First, as you can only read few books in school, the one you read should be representative for its genre. Catcher is; there is hardly a book that is more famous as regards literature for young people. Further on it should be a model from which you can learn techniques how to deal/work with books. In this respect the Catcher is ideal, since we learned not only how an American student’s everyday life looks like, but also how psychic problems can arise, for example by the death of a family member in childhood or by missing care of the parents. Furthermore a suitable book for reading it in school should be to pass on good language. In that score I criticise the use of that novel in school. It contains a lot of colloquial language and it nearly influenced my personal language style due to all these “goddams”, “olds” and “and alls”.

The novel has many possibilities of interpretation. Sometimes it might be necessary to be motivated by school to search for these interpretations but if you finally sit down at home and think about all these hints, you’ll get several aha moments and I can tell that my horizon has been extended. Now we get to the general function of a school reading matter. It should sensitise for reading, sensitise for life, it should present a certain section, a certain passage of life in detail. It should focus either on the whole (d. Ganze) or on details and the beauty of each individual and each life section.

It should extend people’s horizon so that they say “Yeah, that’s it, that book helped me on my way to happiness!”

It does not mean that the book has to be perfect, this is impossible. Lots of books can help us finding our way and living our lives, each in its own way. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” offers lots of opportunities that you have to catch, and then, you’ll become happy. There are passages in this novel that will – if you catch the opportunities – cause goose-pimples. My personal main message that novel delivers can be found in the last sentences. Enjoy life by seeing positive aspects and either ignoring or struggling against negative ones. Enjoy every second, even negative experiences can have positive consequences (Holden even misses Maurice). You can learn from everybody and everything. So follow your way with open eyes and live your life!



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