Thursday, January 28, 2010


One of my favorite authors, J.D. Salinger, has passed away at the age of 91. I fell in love with his book "Catcher in the Rye" after reading it in 8th or 9th grade. So much so that I read it a second time years later. 

""Catcher" presents the world as an ever-so-unfair struggle between the goodness of young people and the corruption of elders, a message that only intensified with the oncoming generation gap."  

The following quote, from the book, describes the main character beautifully as well as the title:

"I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."

Looking back now, I think my obsession with this book stemmed from my fascination with childhood innocence. I have always felt this need to protect children from the harsh realities of adulthood. If I really want to dig deeper, I could say that my childhood experience with family feuding may have caused me to recoil from any confrontation at all costs. We can not choose the environments we grow up in but parents must realize that their actions can have lasting effects on a child's future. Now I am not saying you should shelter a child from every bad thing in the world, but some children are more sensitive than others. I feel it is my duty to protect my brother from his illness since I can't bear to see him in pain. We often say that Josh may have always been unequip to handle the harsh realities of adulthood. Now that he is burdened with a chronic illness, I would do anything to bring him back to the days when life was so easy for him, as a child. When he first got ill, he often made comments about life being much easier and enjoyable and a kid. 

I am not a therapist, but being subjected to fights within the family/in-laws as a child was something I NEVER had any control of. As an adult, if I loose control, I have a very difficult time adjusting. I wonder if this stems from my childhood or the fact that I analyze everything:) I am not angry at my parents because the majority of the time, they were wonderful and supportive. The only issue I had was that they involved the children in their confrontation even though it had nothing to do with us. When you develop a great sensitivity to confrontation, those early experiences can never be erased. Maybe this is why I won't judge a serial killer or someone whose actions may have been triggered by an extremely abusive upbringing. We must remember that every effect has a cause.  

What's ironic about "Catcher in the Rye" is how one man, with schizophrenia (an illness that robs someone of reality), felt that this book gave him reason to kill John Lennon.

"The cult of "Catcher" turned tragic in December 1980 when crazed Beatles fan Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, citing Salinger's novel as an inspiration and stating that "this extraordinary book holds many answers." 

At the time of the murder, Chapman was clearly unmedicated and unaware of his troubled mind. He has been in prison since 1981 after he changed his plea from insanity to guilty. Some believe that his illness may have resulted from his troubled childhood. Chapman was very sensitive to the anger his parents had towards each other. The physical abuse may have intruded upon his normal development. As a result, he escaped to a fantasy world. I wonder if Chapman became obsessed with Holden Caufield's character since he too was looking for someone to protect him. 

I thank J.D. Salinger for his contributions to the literary world. He will never be forgotten. I will end with one of my favorite quotes:

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." –Pablo Picasso

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