Rebellion is an ostensible behaviour ascribed with adolescence. It is as though the transition from ‘child’ to ‘young adult’ must be characterized by events that send out the message of independence. Parents’ refusal to emotionally acknowledge this, further fuel the very act itself.
The Catcher in the rye (I had personally titled it ‘The Scribblings of Holden Caulfield’) discusses adolescent rebellion from the point of view of its protagonist, Holden Caulfield. The book opens to a 16 year old Holden, who had just gotten kicked out of his high school. The knowledge that Holden had been expelled from four other schools made this opening palatable. We learn about his life in those schools, through several references he made to the past, as he tries to justify the reasons for his latest expulsion. From the first chapter, I had known I wouldn’t nurture any particular fondness for Holden. He is too petulant for my liking. Being in my late teens, I could, however, relate with some of his experiences and perspectives but he had too much negativity going on. Trust me, at this stage of my life, negativity isn’t on my radar.
J.D Salinger stole my heart with his melange of slangs. Imagine my excitement when I found out that phrases like ‘that killed me’ have been in use since time immemorial. Discovering words like swell, can, flits and knockers, brought with them, a feeling that was otherworldly. But, the book annoyed me, for the most part of it’s 234 pages. Holden had conflicting personalities. He came off as a snob, there was rarely a person he didn’t consider a ‘phony’. Then as a depressed and lonesome teenager who was taking out his anger on a world that didn’t give two flips about him. However, after shutting off my dislike for Holden’s multiple personalities, I began to see him in a new light. He was just a boy who wanted to find a way to get over his brother’s death. Maybe, if his parents had paid a lot more attention, they might have found out that, underneath the nonchalant attitude,was grief unhealthily tucked away.
His relationship with Phoebe is the part of this book that gave me the most kick. I was proud, sort of, when Phoebe turned out to be a diarist and as such, she became my favourite character. I chuckled a lot at their conversations. Despite how bored I felt at some points in the book, I was able to pick up several life-changing advice from Holden and other characters. In the end, it was worth it.
The world is an incessant circle; so we’ve been told. Most challenges faced by adolescents and young adults of this generation have been faced and conquered in the past. This book offers, in form of hidden treasures, solutions that we would find beneficial. It might, however, bore an average 21st century youth but admittedly, that is a small price to pay. This book is a 3/5 for me.
Author: J.D Salinger
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Realistic fiction, Coming-of-age fiction
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