Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger

812Ws5zli2L“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

The Catcher in the Rye induces me not only because it is a must-read classic on everyone’s lips, but also of the infamous murder case of John Lennon in New York. The malefactor the act, Mark Chapman, fired him several times and remained at the scene while having a copy of The Catcher in the Rye in his hand, reading several pages and repetitively said “This is my statement” before arrested by the police. I have to know what influence it has brought to the killer as well as the worldwide nation, and how it changes the ways we read a novel and the reason for its ban in several states in America at the time.

But I do say that educated and scholarly men, if they’re brilliant and creative to begin with – which, unfortunately, is rarely the case – tend to leave infinitely more valuable records behind them than men do who are merely brilliant and creative. They tend to express themselves more clearly, and they usually have a passion for following their thoughts through to the end. And – most important – nine times out of ten they have more humility than the unscholarly thinker. Do you follow me at all?”

Reading The Catcher in the Rye, to me, conjures up images from Boyhood, a coming-of-age movie directed by Richard Linklater, it really does. for example, the part where Mr. Antolini gives out pieces of advice to Holden Caulfield on phases of life, education and creativity is somehow corresponding to Mr. Turlington’s admonishment to Mason on the so-called uselessness of talents in photography, only that the latter one carries more of a satirical tone. Apart from that, there is also the stereotype shared by Holden and Mason that people surrounding them do not really get to their inner deep thoughts. What amazes me while reading the last line of The Catcher in the Rye – “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody”, isn’t this whimsical and witty response a bit similar to the line “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us“? They both point to situations where coincidence drives our momentary mentality as well as let-the-circumstance-guide-you those kind of philosophical sayings.

If a body catch a body coming through the rye – Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”

However, it is interesting to know that J. D. Salinger never agreed into making The Catcher in the Rye into a Hollywood movie, based on several matters of fact: (1) “The weight of a book is in the narrative’s voice, the non-stop peculiarities” and the personal accounts and attachment of his philosophical discriminating attitudes concerning the city is “illegitimately be separable” to his first-person accounts; and (2) choosing the right actor for the protagonist would be an excruciating task for both parties, and is “essentially unactable”. Put it in this way, the movie adaptation will never be as cool as the book.

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.'”

In my opinion, boy never had I have been such a state of eagerness to hope myself having studied it in an English literature class! I read it in late twenties and I still thrive to decipher the meanings, the symbols and all!  However, I now endeavour myself the best I can to see this book through.

“Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”

I think Holden Caulfield detests permanent change on stages and temporal development. The ducks and fish on a frozen river (the wandering and within control), the purity of the religion (nuns), the rarity of museum frozen in time, literature he’s read, the idealism of his sister Phoebe’s innocence and the carousel (the wandering), his passed-away brother Allie are entities he still clings to and believes in. The “phony” and “corny” bits are the pace, continuity, the aging, the social niceties existing in sycophants surrounding the world, that he must keeps up in self-protection and alienation with a reversible jacket and a hat with earlaps attached to it. He is depressed and lonesome, which signifies the fastness of time and its transience beyond control, for example, old people like Mr. Spencer, his history teacher, the sex, the “unspeakable and embarrassing” reaction of Mr. Antolini . “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody”, the word “missing” here might also engulf another meaning of “flitting away” as that someone’s impression or memory usurped from him by time and growth.

“Go ahead, then–I’ll be on this bench right over here. I’ll watch ya.” I went over and sat down on this bench, and she went and got on the carrousel. She walked all around it. I mean she walked once all the way around it. Then she sat down on this big, brown, beat-up-looking old horse. Then the carrousel started, and I watched her go around and around. 

Anyway, reading The Catcher in the Rye starts off with gaddam preposterous and hilarious beginnings in the first few chapters, but in the middle progress, for chrissake, it gets me in a slight trance resulted from Holden’s river of consciousness and his apathy, attitudes of cares for nothing and all like a madman, they really are. However there is a bright light right at the end of the tunnel about his meeting with Phoebe and Mr. Antolini, and at this point, it becomes so rich in details, so nice it kills me. I need to analyze the piece. I swear to God I’ll read it again.

What I want to ask is, what you think Holden’s life would be after the book?

Published by

Wong Sarah

Making reading the essential part of my life

2 thoughts on “Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s