hblask, on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009, 2:33 PM, said:
My wife suggested that if I had read it as a teenager I might have liked it more, because of that teen angst thing you mention. Maybe that's true. But the book doesn't *go* anywhere. Every page is the same, there is no learning, growing, or change -- just repetition of an attitude.
No, it's absolutely about change. Just contrast the two versions of the song "Catcher in the Rye" that Holden sings to himself. In the beginning, he thinks the song goes "if a body CATCH a body coming through the rye." Holden can't stand the slightest human suffering, and is terrified that he is about to grow up and enter a world with an over abundance of it. He is terrified of the prospect of crossing through the fog of highway 236 (I think that's the number...) and drifting through the unknown. He is the champion of innocence. He believes that it is his job to ride around the world and save little children from falling off the cliff at the end of the Rye into the real world. He wants to travel the world, erasing the "FU
CK YOU"s that are written everywhere to protect children from seeing them and growing up.But this is of course impossible. Growing up is inevitable. Our lives are merry-go-rounds, constantly moving forward, and we can't do anything to prevent that. So what then? Do we just throw up our hands in despair? Do we just kill ourselves now instead of facing the horrors of adulthood? No, we meet someone in the rye, someone that we truly love, and confront the future with them. The song really goes, "if a body MEET a body coming through the rye." We grab hands with the person we love the most, in Holden's case it is his sister Phoebe, and, hand in hand, leap off the cliff together. This is what Holden learns by the end. He embraces the inevitability and learns that you can't erase the bad in the world, instead you have to embrace the good.Yeah, it's an amazing book. I reread it earlier this year (that's how I remember all this crap). It's hard because nearly everything in the book is symbolic, so you have to take some time and think about every odd detail and decide how it fits into Holden's dilemma. Come on, man, there are prostitutes, drinking, fighting, girls asses in skirts, and it all takes place in old school New York in the 50's! What's not to love?