Explain Holden's opinion of literature in Catcher in the Rye.

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Holden has a deep love for books in Catcher in the Rye, that is why he is so angry at his brother D.B. for being a sellout and not writing books.  Holden tells us that his favorite book of all time is his brother's book, "The Secret Goldfish."

Holden does well in one subject, English, not only because the work is familiar from school to school, but because he is a reader.  He is a very intelligent young man, a deep thinker, a very thoughtful individual who possibly contemplates the meaning of life a little too much for someone his age.

His knowledge comes from his love of literature. He actually read "Out of Africa," already, the book that he was given at the library by accident.  He is actually reading it again, he wants to read certain parts again.

"I'd read it already, but I wanted to read certain parts over again." (Salinger)

This admission by Holden that he wants to reread part of this book indicate that he has an intimate relationship with books, he gets a great deal of satisfaction and knowledge from reading.

dymatsuoka's profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Holden's explanation of his opinion of literature is, like a good part of his discourse, pretty much disjointed, but he actually appears to have a fairly strong appreciation for books and is surprisingly well-read.  Holden describes himself paradoxically as being "quite illiterate, but (he) reads a lot".  He says that what he likes best "is a book that's at least funny once in a while...(and that) what really knocks (him) out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it". 

Some of Holden's favorite authors include his brother D.B., Ring Lardner, Thomas Hardy, and Isak Dinesen.  He has just finished reading Out of Africa by Dinesen, and also mentions Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham, and a book of plays by Lardner.  A favorite or his seems to be Return of the Native by Hardy; Holden mentions that particular book more than once in the narrative, and is especially fond of its main character, Eustacia Vye.

Holden says that he reads "a lot of classical books", which he likes, and "a lot of war books and mysteries", which "don't knock (him) out too much".  He rereads his favorite parts of books that he has found especially interesting, as he does with Out of Africa.

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