Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Catcher in the Rye Reflection (small spoilers)

Today I read, in one day, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I have to say, this is a book that everyone kept telling me to read in high school. When I would tell teachers that I hadn't read it, all I would hear is "Are you sure? Salinger. You must have. Holden Claufield. Ducks." I heard from so many people that I would just love him because he is a cynic, like my (embarrassingly) teen-aged self. Unfortunately, I read it now, not as a teenager, and I thought all the hype of the book was true. I was expecting way too much. And for all the people who said I would identify with him because he’s a cynic...yeah, thanks.

I know some people hate Holden, calling him whiny and such. Some people love him, calling him delightfully cynical. I didn’t find him to be either of these things. I found him to hate everything in general, sometimes without giving the world the benefit of the doubt before he judged them. I understand though, his harsh judgment on people whom he sees as “phony.” He doesn’t want to be in school, and it can be interpreted that he is being true to himself when he doesn’t apply himself. I get it, what's the point? right.  

The story, to me, is about the transition into adulthood wherein you begin to start making decisions for yourself and you are held accountable for your actions. He needs to figure out what he wants to do with his life. I was in my third year of my undergrad when I decided what I wanted to do after I obtained my undergraduate degree. What I can distinguish is the way that he handles his uncertainty. Leaving school early and living in sleezy motels and drinking is not the best way to deal with your problems. He begins to fantasize about leaving society and living in a cabin in the woods and never speaking to people again.    

While I did enjoy his digressions, I found that the story was just him...doing stuff. And remembering stuff. Some of it was not exactly fascinating to me. But the digressions were the most interesting part of the novel, and he does say, on page 183 of my edition, that he likes digressions as well.

My thinking, at this point in time (which I may change in the future) is that young adults or teenagers may enjoy this novel for the often “taboo” subjects that arise and the censorship and hype that accompany it (such as the shooter of John Lennon being obsessed with the novel). It is also interesting to note that Holden himself is a virgin in the novel, so even his own sexuality is being discovered, which may appeal to YA readers. It is a novel of teenaged-angst and general disgust with the world, and how the narrator identifies himself in that world, that can be identifiable to YA readers.      

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