The Catcher in the Rye – A look back
Weeks ago I discussed my experience when I first read Catcher in the Rye. I loved Holden when I was 15 and hated the kid when I was 20.
Now, a little older and a tad bit wiser, not to mention a father of two teenagers, I was curious how I would view Holden the third time around.
The results were interesting.
Before I started I had planned on taking a lot of notes and at the beginning I did but I soon discovered it took away my concentration and overall feel of Holden and his journey.
So I decided to read it like any other book, give it some thought and write my conclusion in the most honest way I know how.
Keep in mind this is simply my opinion of this young man and my conclusions can be as right as it is wrong but regardless of right or wrong I saw him through a father’s eyes.
My eyes, that is.
The book was published in 1951. I read somewhere it took JD Salinger about a decade to write it but I pretended the days spent with Holden were from the year it was published.
1951 America was a conservative time. It was post World War 2. We were involved in the Korean War and the threat of communism had dug itself into the heart of most Americans.
I wasn’t around in the 50’s but I have a feeling the way people dealt with emotions, particularly the loss of a loved one is far different than the way we handle it today.
In today’s world we are much more open, our feelings are expressed and encouraged but in 1951 something tells me the opposite took center stage.
The story was told in Holden’s words. He had an older brother, a young brother and the youngest, a sister.
His little brother Allie died in 1946 of leukemia. He was eleven years old. This tragic event made me believe that this was the heart of the story.
Most of Holden’s grief was dealt with internally. I kept getting the impression the family swept their emotions under the rug resulting in a volcano ready to erupt.
The older brother lived in California, Holden was sent off to college in New York City while leaving his little sister behind. The story opens with Holden being expelled for bad grades and I feel his bad grades were calculated.
He wants to go home to grieve and to protect his little sister from death.
I can understand why the book was shocking for its time. He questioned religion, talked about sex and used lots of profanity. All of this taboo in 1951.
Most of the topics Holden discussed were whispered behind closed doors in the 50’s. I can’t help but wonder if people saw themselves when they first read it and were ashamed or embarrassed at what they saw.
If this book were written today I doubt it would have received the same attention it did back then. But that’s a good thing. It shows how much we have grown.
As a father I wanted to tell this young man to stop running. Embrace your emotions, Holden. Cry. Take care of your little sister and never be ashamed of anything.
You deserve the right to miss your little brother, to protect those you love and to be mad at death for what it did to you and your family.
In other words get it out. Scream from the roof top and tell the world how angry you are that the grim reaper took away your little brother.
I’m happy I read it again. I now have a new appreciation for JD Salinger and the courage he displayed. I have a feeling it became a trying time for him once the book became popular.
This might explain why he became a recluse.
As for Holden, I’ll come to my conclusion some other time on what I feel happened to him in later years. If there’s ever a fan fiction that needs to be written this is it.
Happy Friday Everyone!!!!