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J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield Was In Need of Teen Rehab!

By January 29, 2010No Comments


As a formerly challenging and challenged teen, it seems important for me to note the passing of J.D. Salinger this week. Best known for his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger chronicles the angst-ridden teen Holden Caulfield’s adventures in New York following his expulsion from private school. Caulfield basically wanders around in a semi-drunken stupor for a few days, visiting his sister and an old English teacher, and ruminating about all of the “phonies” and his dissociation with society and his family.
Sounds like someone needs to go to rehab. Getting kicked out of school? Check. Engaging in dangerous behaviors (ie: getting beat up by a prostitute’s pimp)? Check. Wandering around alone in a big city drunk for three days? Check. Drinking alone for three days? Check. Feeling alienated, disconnected, depressed, and hopeless? Check. I’m just saying.
It’s nice to find identification in literature. I know that without certain characters, my teen years would have felt a lot more empty and hopeless. I often envied the authors for their ability to put those strange hollow feelings into words. I wished I could describe that hole inside me, and J.D. Salinger had a way of honoring and explaining that feeling without making it cheesy or insignificant. I think that is part of the reason The Catcher in the Rye has resonated with so many readers for so long.

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