Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Catcher in the Rye and Holden

my copy

I've really been thinking about this post for a few days. and trying the best I can to not make it sound like a 5 paragraph essay for Honors English 11 (even though I never had to read this book for school) or some dis conjoined piece of mush. While at the same time, not including any big spoilers in case you haven't read it. ugh, here goes.

I don't remember what I thought of Holden and this book, specifically, when I first read it in college. I just remember I liked it mainly because I didn't care too much for the phonies that Holden spent so much time whining about.

Now when I'm thinking about Holden I'm torn. There's the phony hating kid I can still relate to, there's the kid who lost his brother to leukemia that my heart breaks for but there's also the poor little rich boy who can't seem to apply himself well enough in school(s) to manage to not get kicked out.

Phoebe calls him out on all his tomfoolery when he admits he got kicked out of Pencey. I think you can tell a lot about characters by how other characters relate to them. with Holden we see him interacting with a roommate, suite mate, a couple of nuns, a schoolmate's mother, a prostitute, a pimp, a couple of former teachers, a former schoolmate, a girl he dates and his sister. I think he's a pretty unreliable narrator so the best idea you get of who he is, isn't who he tells you he is, but who other people tell you he is. each interaction gives you a little more of the Holden Caulfield puzzle.

but to me the difference between whether I like him or just feel sorry for him has to do with how his perception of life was BEFORE Allie died. Was he always the kid who never tried in school? Was he always the kid who couldn't be bothered to put forth effort? The passive kid who just ran away for the weekend instead of dealing with his problems? or is his massive depression the sole result of his brother's death? and seriously, image how torn up you'd be if your brother/sister DIED as a child.

eh, it's all up for debate. J.D. isn't telling anyone. and won't let anyone else publish their ideas either.

On the whole, it's hard for me to relate to Holden but I still definitely like _The Catcher in the Rye_ and I want you to read/reread it too. What do you think of Holden Caulfield? whiny rich boy or tragic figure or somewhere in between?

This is at least my fourth time to read this book (I can tell because there are three previous kinds of highlighter used - pen, pink highlighter and yellow highlighter. and before you ask, I NEVER mix kinds of highlighter on a single reading)

most of the stuff was things that pertained to personal experiences of mine or inside jokes I shared with others. I'll share a few of my past highlights:

  • I'll just tell you about this madman stuff - I made a smiley face beside that in the margin.
  • That's how I practically got t.b. - for all the Judson girls
  • What really knocks me 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.
  • All morons hate it when you call them a moron.
  • Anyway, I keep picturing all of these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy.
  • I mean you can't hardly ever simplify and unify something just because somebody wants you to.

Undoubtedly, the mystique of the book has so much to do with Salinger's reclusive lifestyle, the fact that because of the profane language and sexual references it's one of the most banned books in high school reading and the fact Mark David Chapman and John Hinckley Jr both heavily identified with it. but also, the book is something generations of teenagers could relate to.

I'd sort of like to see the story made into a movie. but then again, those phonies would probably just muck it up. ;-)

I think next I'm going to reread _Lord of the Flies_ I haven't read it since 9th or 10th grade. I'll probably like it a lot more now that AP Cards aren't involved.

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