Monday, January 21, 2013


I read The Catcher in the Rye last week.  As I read, I kept thinking about Holden Caulfield, the misfit.  Holden Caulfield, from a privileged background, but doesn't think he fits in anywhere.  Holden Caulfield, kicked out of school.  Holden Caulfield, almost molested by a former teacher.  Holden Caulfield, wanders around New York and has numerous negative experiences.

I understand why people love this book.  People sympathize with Holden Caulfield, the boy who doesn't fit in.

I couldn't.

I kept thinking about Adam Lanza.

I should point out that I grew up near Newtown, Connecticut, and so the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School have been incredibly difficult for me to process.  I still think of those tragic deaths daily.

And so, as I was reading about this classic literary hero, I couldn't get past the parallels between Holden Caulfield, the misfit, the boy who doesn't fit in, the boy who needs help, and Lanza.

Of course, unlike Lanza, Caulfield manages not to hurt anyone, winds up going home and at the end of the book, obtains the mental health care he desperately needs.

Maybe this analysis is too simplistic.  I understand why the book is viewed as such great literature.  Perhaps I simply read it at the wrong time.  In any case, I wish I could like Holden Caulfield more than I do.

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