It’s not like people don’t want to read classics. In fact, I feel most readers want to indulge in classics, but they are somehow scared to pick one. And it’s not their fault; in fact, a lot of people find classics inaccessible and obscure to some extent. There can be a string of reasons for this, but mainly – the language and the generation gap happens to be the wall between readers and Classics. Well, most of us are aware of the fact that the world functioned instead differently a couple of decades back. People had different issues and insecurities. Life was more about survival and less about living. It was about fighting against the bizarre absurdities of that time. If we look closely, we’ll find that the classics from the World War era are very much different from the ones written in the Post War era.
The Catcher in the Rye (Review)
Similarly, novels from the Victorian Era are different from the Romanticism era. Authors came up with stories that resonated with them and their social structure. And hence, when it comes to picking up a classic, the generational gap becomes too wide to be bridged. But if there is one author who could successfully bridge the gap between generations and people – it has to be J.D. Salinger. He created a character that does not belong to any one specific time zone or period. His book The Catcher in the Rye travels across generations to pull you in a warm embrace, to make you feel like you count and you are understood."What if we could find a character who is flawed, and yet we could fall in love with him/her?" can you relate?
Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of the book, is like any other teenager – nonconformist, and full of angst. And like many other students, he falls in love with the subject English but ends up hating the other subjects. Sounds relatable, right? There’s another thing that Holden hates supremely, and that is adulthood. He doesn’t want to grow into an adult. He finds them fake, pretentious, and phony. Holden is highly opinionated. He is judgemental and impulsive like any other teenager going through massive outbursts of hormones and changes. I think one of the toughest things for an author is to create a character who is painfully honest about his/her flaws. People expect good out of a protagonist. They don’t want to hate or dislike the protagonist of the book they are reading. No one wants to read a book with a protagonist who spits out careless words. It’s important for a reader to fall in love with the protagonist of a book to completely connect with it. And that’s where the question arises – what if we could find a character who is flawed, and yet we could fall in love with him/her? The answer will be – Holden Caulfield.
You will find a piece of you in him. Every time he loses his mind and does something absolutely stupid, you’ll see a reflection of your teenage life in him. Every time you see him fumble for the appropriate words to express himself, you’ll resonate with his rawness. And that is why, even though Holden is flawed, he is flawed in the most human way possible. He is flawed the way we are, and that gives us readers some relief. With that being said, we often come across the F-word in contemporary books, but back in 1951, when this book was written, not many authors chose to use the F-word in their books. People back then did not appreciate slang as much as people do today. But J.D. Salinger chose to introduce slang through his book and made it rather common. We can imagine the cultural shock for the people who read this book back then. In fact, even today, when someone reads this book, it comes as a shock to them. Because a lot of readers do not expect such easy-going language in a classic novel.
Many readers will agree that the first thought that comes in a reader’s mind when they think about a classic is descriptive writing, which is not the case in The Catcher in the Rye. This book feels like a contemporary novel written for today’s young audience, and this is where it wins so many hearts. J.D. Salinger managed to write a book that fights against the shackles of time. It hits you like a storm, only to shake you up, and leaves a lasting impression. You’ll not be able to forget Holden for a long-long time. He’ll stay at the back of your mind. You’ll pick his language (beware of the word ‘phony’), and resonate with him at every step. His relationship with his little sister will seem a lot like your shared relationships with your siblings or cousins. The bottom line is – there is always so much to learn from a book or a character, and from Holden, you’ll learn how to save others without feeling entitled over their lives. And that is one inexplicable lesson for every teenager out there.