I recently re-read Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (for a friend’s coursework) nearly ten years after I had first read it, and as unexpected as it sounds, I didn’t like it that much. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still your average disillusioned, melancholic teenager (remember while I’m in my early twenties, I never could outgrow my teenage years). But I cannot identify with Holden Caulfield anymore.
When I had read it I was 13 or 14 and I was just growing up and the world felt awkward and absurd and it felt like I’d never be a part of it. Holden came to my rescue then. He was sad, he hated that the world was closing in on him, he felt helpless, he felt trapped between stereotypes and the opinions of others. There was a lot he could do perhaps, to salvage himself from the situation but if he had then the book wouldn’t be as beautiful as it is now.
Again, I love Absurd Heroes: the quest to find the meaning of life, and the futility of it all and thereafter, the foreboding, the pain is beautiful in its own way. Kind of sexy too, perhaps. But I’d much prefer the Byronic hero over the Absurd one anyday now that I’m older.
Anyhow, I will always hold this book close to my heart. For the wrong reasons. Holden was a rebel, and I aspired to become one but … now years later, I think I just succumbed to the world.
And that’s not a bad thing, right?