[Note: This post was supposed to be for last week, but due to some personal things going on it was delayed. There will be another FtMB post this week as scheduled.]
There was a time where I didn’t consume books like I do now, and that was during my second year in high school. I couldn’t really get into some of the books assigned to my class. That is, until a book with a plain white cover found its way into my hands.
That book was J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye,” and I credit that title (and Salinger, may he rest in peace) with getting me back into reading for recreation, for insight, and most of all, for forcing me to look at the world we all live in differently.
“Catcher in the Rye” is told completely by its protagonist, Holden Caulfield, a student at Pencey Prep. It is through his point of view that the reader experiences the story, and as such, it’s his emotions and thoughts that are exposed to us. The novel traces his path from a temporary expulsion (where he can return after the Christmas holiday) to a trek through New York City, and finally, his journey home. Along the way, he encounters many people, all of whom have certain effects on him and his character. The most important person to him is his little sister, Phoebe, whose happiness he places over everything else.
Another individual he highly respects is his brother, DB, but what he despises is how DB “prostitutes himself” for Hollywood as a screenwriter.
I still remember (shyly) giving my viewpoint on Holden’s character, about how his acting out and doing what he did was a way of crying out for help. As stated before, all his encounters and interactions with people leave a profound effect on him, but by the end of his journey through New York, he finds that he wants to “save” children from adulthood (and the characteristic changes of it). But, even though he tries to hide it, it’s clear that he is the one that needs to be “saved” as well.
The final line of the novel really hit me, because it reminded me about how we all form relationships with people. It all begins with a “Hi” or “Hello”, and sometimes, these friendships end out of nowhere, causing emotional pain. Holden has clearly been stung many times and tosses us this bit of “advice” in order to save us from it.