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Critique of Catcher in the Rye Book Cover

The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, is an iconic novel. The book also has a very recognizable cover design. The book was first published in 1951, and since then has been republished many times with different book covers. One of the current editions of The Catcher in the Rye, uses the same cover that the book was originally published with.

The design on the cover of The Catcher in the Rye depicts a linear drawing of a carousel horse with a small, sketchy drawing of New York City to the left in the background. The drawing of the horse is abstracted, while the city seems more naturalistic. The illustration of the carousel horse is very flat, but is loaded with detail. It looks as though there is some shading on the horses body, but it appears to me to be more for texture rather than volume. The horse’s saddle is elaborate with decoration extending across it’s body.  Lines on the mane and tail provide texture. The detail on the mane and tail also gives the appearance of the hair flowing with the movement.

The sketchy, hand drawn appearance of the horse shows movement. The angle at which the carousel horse was placed also provides a feel of motion. The diagonal placement of the drawing seems to make the cover more dynamic as well. This also lends to a sense of urgency and madness in the cover design. I feel that there is excitement in this drawing. The carousel horse looks as though it was drawn fast and almost appears rushed.

The drawing of New York City in the background is tiny compared to the carousel horse. The drawing is very detailed. There are park benches, trees, and lamp posts in the foreground, and tall buildings and a bridge in the back. The buildings have some tiny windows on them that add to their dimension. Unlike the carousel horse, the city scene is not so flat. Some of the buildings appear to have more that one side showing. Also unlike the horse, I think the city looks rather static.

The colors chosen for The Catcher in the Rye’s cover bring out the intense feeling I get from it. The horse is drawn in black and colored a bright orange-red. The cover design of the Catcher in the Rye appeals to me because it is intriguing and mysterious. The bright colors draw me in while the intricate line drawing of the carousel horse holds my attention.