The Catcher in the Rye is a novel written by Jerome David Salinger, an American writer born in 1919 in New York. The novel narrates the story of a 16 years old boy named Holden Caulfield, who's desperately seeking to find who he really is, and his purpose in life.
More than just a story about an unusual boy struggling with his teenage problems, the novel is a deep study of Holden's reactions and emotions. Throughout the story Salinger constantly uses metaphors and symbols to make the reader navigate through the depths of Holden's personality.
The entire novel is a flashback. The story begins and ends when Holden is talking to his psychoanalyst at a mental hospital or maybe at his house, about everything that had happened to him.
He comes from wealthy family from New York, and has attended to different private schools, but has been expelled from most of them. The novel takes place during Christmas time when he has been kicked out of Pencey Preparatory School, because he has failed most of his subjects. He's afraid to tell his parents the news, so he decides not to go home until the beginning of the Christmas vacations. Instead he goes to New York and spends three days on a hotel.
During the three days he spends out of his house Holden feels lonely and depress most of the time. He wants to talk to someone about his feelings, so he tries to buy drinks to the taxi drivers, call his former ex girlfriends and even pays for a prostitute so she would talk to him. The only problem was that nobody seems to understand him or why he is feeling the way he does.
The only person who meant something in Holden's lonely and “miserable” life was his 10 years old sister Phoebe. She plays a very important role in the story, and at the end she's the one that represents a major turning point in Holden Caulfield's life. Phoebe with all her innocence and love for his big brother makes him realize that he should stop thinking about leaving town and living in the forest, and convince him to stay at home with their parents.
The end of the story, as I said before, is when Holden Caulfield is narrating his story to his psychoanalyst. He seems to be recovering from his traumas and apparent mental disease. The ironic part of the end, I believe, is that he is telling the story to the doctor when he actually didn't like to talk to people about his problems and thought they were all “phonies”, as he used to call people.