The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

December 19, 2011
A Walk in Central Park: Catcher’s Lost Translation into Our Generation

Holden Caulfield is the boy you want to kick in the pants and then wrap in your arms and coddle when he whines. J.D. Salinger’s work of teenage ostracization and perfectly coifed underachievement has been, without a doubt, a pinnacle source of debate and discussion among classrooms and coffee tables for nearly forty years. Catcher has been declared dangerously provocative, heartbreaking, rebelliously-cool, and brutally, beautifully honest while roughing out decades of summer reading lists or not only high school students, but nearly every well read intellect of the educated community. For those forty-some years, Holden has been loved through jaundiced pages and declared by many as an angsty inspiration for their own truthfulness and consideration of those phonies and madmen we all put up with. All of those years that is, until recently.

Holden has undoubtedly lost sympathy, even an understanding, among this generations readers. For once, this is not due to technology’s poisonous side effects of impatience or sloth, nor Holden’s inability to “like” our comments or tweet his depressive rants. No, the real downfall of Holden’s legacied popularity lies in the tragic truth of which teenagers have really “heard it all.” His psychotic anxiety and incoherent-esque thoughts really do not stand out enough anymore to light a sympathetic flame in developing teenage readers. Yes, we recognize his brother died a leukemic and traumatic death and he does not feel his parents unconditional love and attention while enrolled in several elite boarding schools of the upmost prestige. But teens today have a much higher, or more accurately, miserable, standard of what really is The School Of Hard Knocks. This time, Holden just doesn’t make our cut.

Readers, make that teens, are used to hearing of rape, drug addiction, poverty, incest, brutal abuse, debilitating handicap-the ugliest of the ugly ills of human kind. Not to mention thee all-too-overwhelming tragedies of young vampire-werewolf love puzzles and moonlit duels fighting evil wizards. Somehow, after watching buildings crumble onto lives on the same streets Holden stumbles across chain-smoking and serial dating, even his most neurotic breaks and conversations with his dead brother seem like, well, a walk in Central park.

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