You’re 30. And still a Catcher in the Rye.
You are no longer a teenager. (Thank God for that?). Reading THE CATCHER IN THE RYE— again or for the first time, when you’re thirty — means it’s less about the awesome adventures of that nonconformist Holden Caulfield and much more about the strange world he inhabits. Here’s a young man dealing with the same problem many adults still do: an overwhelmingly alien world, populated with strange creatures whose only resemblance to humanity is that they look like, well, them.
J.D. Salinger taps into the same metaphysical wavelength that Herman Hesse did with his bildungsroman/coming-of-age novels. But Salinger’s craftiness lies in compressing his young hero’s stream-of-consciousness into one debaucherous week (ironically, Christmas weekend)…making the reader’s experience very very intense.
Symbols abound (sex is never consummated because it’s the implied doorway to ruinous adulthood; Salinger’s interest in eastern philosophy and Western religion, namely, Catholicism finds expression through subplots and characters; and an English professor called Mr. Antolini lays out the perfect exit strategy for those of us wanting actual meaning in an absurd life).
I think the reason why CATCHER will continue to capture the imaginations of both the young and old is the honesty, purity and lack of pretense embodied by Holden Caulfield. He represents the very best in us: like a child he yearns for the experience of the new; confused, he optimistically fumbles his way through the monolithic labyrinth built by adults, themselves lost souls. This book is sure to bring you years and years of comfort.
Remember, you are not alone.