Mood: humbled, and deeply moved…
Weather: opalescent clouds glimmer in the Sunlight…
Listening To: Edda: an Icelandic Saga
“…I keep picturing all these kids playing some game in this big field of tall rye grass. Thousands of kids and nobody`s around 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… I know it`s crazy, but that`s the only thing I`d really like to be.”
Today we finished reading the Catcher in the Rye in my Senior-level Literature class. It has been slow going thus far, as the students have frequently interjected their own thoughts on the events and ideas contained within the pages of Salinger`s magnum opus.
While the individual opinions of a given issue often run the gamut, there is one point of which my students are of a shared accord: Holden Caulfield has got a foul [EXPLETIVE] mouth, even for a teenager. Especially, as one student opined, for a teenager back in the “old days” when everyone was clean-cut and nobody ever dared utter a “dirty” word.
Of course, it is just these sorts of unsupported assertions that we have discussed and examined within the context of history and culture; while also drawing certain parallels to our own wanton age and that of Salinger`s misanthropic protagonist.
Myself, I am glad to have finally finished this laborious assignment. I derive very little pleasure from retreading this tiresome Bildungsroman, and find the character of Holden Caulfield to be one of the most exasperating in all of American literature. Even if, on an infinitesimally particular sense, I found certain aspects of his personality to mirror my own… especially insofar as the conduct of my youth is concerned.
Though I would never defend nor condone the character/actions of Caulfield, I can certainly recognize his appeal… especially with adolescent boy-men who allow the bruisings of their juvenile sensitivity harden into the callous of snarky fatalistic cynicism; a “rapist wit” if you will.
I took, as my approach to this work, the role of saboteur and cross-examination; savaging the mythos of Catcher in the Rye. Hammering away at contradictions, self-refutations, and the utterly vile paradigm found `neath all the lambasting of supposed “phonies” and “morons” on whom the narrative seeks to savage.
On the surface, it seemed rather successful… our conversations often tilted towards the inconsistency of the character(s) and the transparency of the author`s attempted manipulation of their emotions into sympathizing with much of Caulfield`s folly.
However, there was one strange and beautiful moment in the midst of this sewage; specifically concerning the above excerpt…