Get a Life, Holden Caulfield – NYTimes.com [PDF]
When I read this article about Catcher in the Rye, I got all depressed. I felt like crying, and I held my head in my hands briefly. Then I took a deepbreath and mustered up the strength to write this piece.
I had first read J.D. Salinger’s famous work in high school. I believe it was during my freshman year…oh my, what a number of years ago that was. At the time, it was merely coursework. I had no great interest or passion for the book.
However, some years later, I decided I would read this classic again: I read it on my own time, on my own terms. I found the book incredibly endearing to me. The themes of alienation, depression, and observation of a degrading society were familiar to me. Holden’s lousy vocabulary and dated patterns of speech didn’t bother me. Quite the contrary: being one who always loved “the good old days”, it was something I enjoyed, even attempted to emulate and integrate into my own speech. Even to this day, I look to Catcher in the Rye for inspiration when I lose my way writing my own novel.Clearly, ‘Catcher’ is a huge influence on me. Not only as a writer, but as a human being. And being one who unabashedly defends with ferocity all that I love and hold close to me, it upset me to see that the youth nowadays are not appreciating it. According to the New York Times article, one boy’s reaction was, “Oh, we all hated Holden in my class. We just wanted to tell him, ‘Shut up and take your Prozac.’ ” My first reaction was that this kid was a fucking idiot.
I felt that kids nowadays couldn’t appreciate a true masterpiece. These kids couldn’t seem to take their heads out of their own asses. They didn’t know how to put themselves in Holden’s shoes and to see things through his eyes. I saw that kids thought that Holden was (as described in the article) “weird, whiny, and immature.” Considering that I identify so much with Holden, and on a very deep level, I suppose kids nowadays would call me weird, whiny, and immature as well.
Holden wanted to save the youth from growing up too fast. He wanted to maintain their innocence. And it appears that it is a battle that he lost. Look at the children that inhabit our schools and playgrounds nowadays. Long gone are the days of crushes and holding hands, the gasping and ooohing when someone says ‘doody’. They have been replaced by French kissing and underage sex, and an unflinching response when says, “Fuck you!” Holden would have a heart attack if he saw what things were like. And I myself, a lone warrior struggling to carry out Holden’s fight for a pure and unpolluted childhood, am weeping for my own future children.
Check in next week for my article entitled, “No Room for Mystery”, about how our lives have been reduced to systems, structures, and numbers.