One of the books my mother suggested I read was J. D. Salinger’s classic tale of teenage angst, The Catcher in the Rye. I really related to Holden Caulfield, who is the main character and narrator. He was a kid who saw through the “phoniness” of adults. The book tells of his lost weekend in Manhattan during post-war Manhattan. Holden leaves the prep school that he’s being kicked out of and lives in a room in a shabby hotel. He goes dancing, hires a prostitute but then only wants to talk, goes on a date with Sally, who he insults when she refuses to run away with him and he sneaks into his sister Pheobe’s room, where she tells her that he wants to be a catcher in the rye, saving children from falling off the field of rye and become an adult. Eventually, Holden winds up in a mental ward, where he narrates his story.
I was lucky to have the chance to reread the book a couple of years ago when I was in my 50’s. I was able to see the book from a different perspective. Many times through the book he says he’s depressed. In fact, he says at one point he would jump from the roof from his hotel, but he didn’t want people to stare at his dead body. I saw that Holden never got over the death of his younger brother Allie from Leukemia. Suddenly, I didn’t see Holden as an anti-hero or someone to emulate, as I did in teens, but as a kid having a nervous breakdown. It made sense that he wound up in a mental ward. I read the same book but 40 years later I saw it with fresh eyes.
So is Holden the kid who sees through adults or is he a kid having a nervous breakdown. Will the real Holden Caulfield stand up!
As always, I appreciate your feedback. Let me know what you thought of The Catcher in the Rye. I know some people who don’t “get” or appreciate this book as much as I do. Let me know what you think.
Later and happy reading, everyone!