Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"The Catcher In the Rye" - Chapters 1-3

First time reading this book by J. D. Salinger and LOVING IT.  The book, like none other, has exposed the mind of a seventeen year old boy to me - Josh's age when he took his life.  (For those new to the blog, my grief journey has led to a reading journey which you can read about here).

The story is told from the protagonist's point of view, Holden Caulfield.  He is brutally honest about what he sees, thinks and feels - about his school, about adults, about his so called friends.  His thoughts are clearly exaggerated (to the reader), but not to him.  It is black and white.  It is his reality and no one can change it.  For me, this book clarifies the progression of the teenage mind and behavior.  The following thought describes Holden and reminds me of Josh.

Extreme thoughts lead to extreme feelings which lead to extreme actions.

Holden's current school, Pency Prep is kicking him out because he is failing four out of five classes. This is his fourth school.  In a conversation with his history teacher, Holden thinks about another school - one that he quit.
One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies.  That's all.  They were coming in the goddam window. For instance, they had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest bastard I ever met in my life.....I can't stand that stuff.  I drives me crazy.  It makes me so depressed I go crazy.  I hated that goddam Elkton Hills. 
I realize this is fiction but doesn't this happen to today's kids?  That whatever bothers them about life: school, class, coach, team and heaven forbid, family, becomes too much that they just can't stand it and want to quit?  And in Josh's case, the ultimate form of "quitting" is suicide?

Holden is a smart kid - why does he put himself down?
The book I was reading was this book I took out of the library by mistake.  They gave me the wrong book, and I didn't notice it till I got back to my room.  They gave me Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen.  I thought it was going to stink, but it didn't.  It was a very good book.  I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot.
How can you be illiterate and read a lot?  The answer is you can't but this is Holden's reality, his view of himself.

These are my thoughts for now.   As I continue reading, the top questions are:
  • Holden seems "on the edge" mentally and emotionally. What's made him this way?  Why can't he stay in school?  Why does he have such a laissez faire attitude about his life and future? 
  • He is like a ticking bomb.  How does he deal with the extreme thoughts and feelings?  His MO is extreme action so what does he do next?
  • And will he continue to remind me, in part, of Josh?  

1 comment:

Jojo P. said...

This is an excellent book for teenagers to read.