I was talking with a friend of mine earlier today about this. It occurred to me… as much as I have heard about Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in CATCHER IN THE RYE, I have never read this book. Frankly, my friend seemed somewhat surprised that a man of my education never read CITR, but it’s not surprising to me.
Through the years of my reckless youth, I missed lots of things – Prom Night, Cap & Gown, Spring Break, just to name a few. I grew up fast in a difficult period. Between Vietnam, Civil Rights and the sixties counter-culture, I excelled at rebellion and very little else.
It seems there are a lot of parallels between me and Holden Caulfield.
We both lost a brother to Leukemia. We both had a brother and a sister. We were both expelled from a prestigious private school. Although I didn’t end up in a sanitarium like the troubled young man, given the chips falling a different way, I might have. I consider myself fortunate to have come away from my younger days with very little scar tissue and the ability to shield myself from the worst of the memories. The demons of the past, thankfully, stay there.
Maybe I should give CITR a read to commemorate the passing of a genius. In looking at user reviews of his most popular novel, it appears there is no middle ground for his work. On a scale of one to five stars, I see a lot of ones and I see a lot of fives. Not many votes in between.
Perhaps I will find out we are not all that alike, then again… perhaps we are.
I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible. – Holden Caulfield in Chapter three