Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Nineteen - The Catcher In The Rye

JD Salinger
 Stuff Holden Caulfield Probably Learned As He Matured

1. Curse words tend to have more cachet when used sparingly.

2. When I thought adults around me were full of it, many other adults agreed. But they couldn't mention it at the time because of the Code of Adults (which has been around since Hammurabi’s time).

3. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: hyperbole can be overused.

4. It’s redundant to keep repeating yourself. It really is.

5. There is a difference between jumping through hoops and conforming.

6. Loving is worth the risk. Just choose wisely.

I didn’t know what to expect from The Catcher In The Rye. I’ve heard it hyped for years, mostly by those of the male persuasion. I suppose I expected angst, out of control hormones, rebellion and confrontation. I got those things but so much more. The Catcher In The Rye is also introspective, sensitive and honest. Holden is a real person, able to admit his flaws. How many sixteen year olds can do that? Of course, there is some of the self-loathing typical with teenagers, too. They expect no less from themselves than they do from everyone else, and that’s a whole bunch of expectation.

I don’t know why this book is so controversial - unless the controversy is caused by people who don’t spend much time around adolescents and/or don’t remember much of their own adolescence. Isn’t one of the tasks of that season of life to question authority? Don’t we need to learn to think for ourselves? And for that matter, why do some of us stop? Even when questioning authority, Holden is respectful. He understands the rules but resents being forced to fit into a box not of his choosing.

Holden goes on so much about others being phony because he’s afraid that he is phony. He continually asserts that he hates movies but discusses in detail the many movies he sees and imagines himself in scenes in movies. Brief tangent - a friend of mine talks about people and their own personal “movies,” the drama of their lives. Some people seem discontent unless some sort of chaos is brewing; they enjoy stirring up that pot and spouting off about it to anyone who will listen. I don’t get that. I really don’t. (Fine, I’ll stop now. It was endearing when Holden did it, though. A bit annoying, yes, but still endearing. It really was.)

Why does Holden push people away? So he won’t lose them. Does that seem contradictory? Um, yeah, do you remember being a teenager? Also, the parents in the book are like the parents in Charlie Brown, rarely present and babbling when they are. They aren't a significant part of Holden's life, nor is Holden a significant part of theirs. Coincidence?

Holden is a master of the understated, making wisdom seem accidental. Sarcasm is his tool. He tells the truth as he sees it. He’s perceptive. I like him. I really do. (I’m stopping now. I really am.)

Quotes -
I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot.
I’m always saying, “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.
I get it. But the social niceties are, well, nice. And they bind a society together.
… I’m sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don’t care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible.
This may be offensive to some, but like everything else it needs to be examined in context. Holden neither liked nor respected the disciples. He thought they let Jesus down. And seriously, when you read about the cock crowing after Peter denied Christ that third time…

Holden didn’t respect the disciples’ humanness. He didn’t understand that Jesus loved them despite their flaws. He knew that Jesus was all about love but the disciples, like Holden himself, were not. They were mortal. That whole unconditional love thing is difficult to understand unless it’s been experienced from both sides. And how many sixteen year olds are capable of loving unconditionally? They’re inherently selfish. I certainly was, and I was even trying not to be. 
I didn’t cut any classes. You weren’t allowed to cut any. There were a couple of them I didn’t attend once in a while…
Sometimes I sorta miss the semantics of adolescence. Remember when you thought you might be able to get away with that sort of thing?
Every time I’d ask her something, she said “What?” That can get on your nerves after a while.
I’m sayin’.

Comin’ Thro’ The Rye
By Robert Burns

O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry:
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!

Comin thro' the rye, poor body,
Comin thro' the rye,
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need the warl' ken?

Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the grain;
Gin a body kiss a body,
The thing's a body's ain.

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