Finally finished reading this famous American literature classic again, which I read last time, was during my junior high period, the Chinese version, of course. I didn’t remember much about the story before the second time reading, or maybe I just didn’t realize what was the real spirit the great author Salinger tried to exhibit through the book then.
But my memory pieces began to recollect along with the enjoyable and painful reading journey. When I say enjoyable is because the story line is relatively easy to understand, even if its genre sort of belongs to stream of consciousness. While it doesn’t spoil the reading experience as long as you are a reader with basic language and literature foundation, I am sure you can finish it at one setting. However, I want to mainly talk about the painful part: it’s all about the protagonist Holden Caulfield and myself. What Holden, a 16 years old high school dropout depicted in the story, just appropriately resembled what I was going through during my teenage time. Hypocritical teachers, idiotic classmates, phonies in the society, rigid educational system. No matter the different background and era, it seems we encounter the same.
Holden doesn’t want to be one of those phonies whom he has to contact everyday, he chooses to leave Pency—his high school. The story then is focused on his reminiscence of what happened after he left within two days. Basically he hates every one except his deceased brother Allie, his little sister Phoebe and his big brother D.B who goes to Hollywood to make a living, which is despised by Holden to some extent.
Now I remember I was kind of the same boy who was cynical about everything, I did search for some changes and tried to chase for my dreams too, the different part was: I didn’t have the courage to drop out from school. I believe most of you had experienced the same rebelling time and growing pain more or less. We hoped we can change the world and become a hero or some of us just chose to elude the complicated, suffocating and contrived surroundings and keep their innocence. We were all young once, after all.
Quote from several sentences from one chapter: “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'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all.” And this is in the only moment that Holden talks about the catcher in the rye. What on earth is the catcher in the rye? From my perspective: a catcher in the rye is someone who protects innocent children from being contaminated by the dirty society and keeps children’s pure essence left in their heart.
The brutal reality is that on one would be your protector anymore, no catcher in the rye! The society is transforming you to be the “Mr or Miss Right” day by day and obliterating your personality piece by piece. And finally you are forged into a standardized part in the production line. Congratulations! We have all become the person we hate when we are young. Wearing a tie and go to work , marrying a woman ,having a child, and gradually becoming old and waiting to die. As for the ideal we once tried to chase for, who still remembers? What I am trying to say is that you have parents to support, kids to feed, that’s why you never have time to think about what you really want in your goddamn whole life.
Even our hero Holden cannot be an exception. At the end of the story, he became schizophrenic after he decided to go back home when he saw his sister Phoebe playing the carrousel. Or some other readers may have a different opinion about the meaning of the end. It doesn’t matter, we all will be institutionalized finally, and as the great line in the book says: the mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.
So good luck to your rest lousy life, everyone!