A Rebel on His Way to Adulthood in The Catcher in the Rye

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Ever since I read ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ – I was 17 then – I have tried to explain myself why this book is so significant. Why is it so hated and adored at the same time? I must confess I hadn’t heard anything about Salinger till I watched ‘Conspiracy Theory’. If you don’t remember I’ll tell you that the movie was about this taxi driver Jerry Fletcher who traced conspiracy in everything and all of sudden one of his theories came to be true. Mel Gibson was incredible playing a man who was funny and serious, brilliant and a bid mad. And this queer person couldn’t feel ‘normal’ if he didn’t buy a copy of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ every day. And that impressed me so much that after that I bought the book myself. I don’t know why I did it. Generally, I hate to be told what to do, less what to read. But at that time perhaps I needed to feel ‘normal’ too. Now, four years later, I read it again. And I was a bit nervous about it. After all there is this disaster called ‘time’ and we are all infected by it but there is no cure. The symptom is that we change but not only physically. Our points of view, ideals and beliefs also change. That is why I was so anxious about reading the book again but at the same time I was curious to find out how much I have changed. Actually, I didn’t remember most of it. I could recall only my feelings. And that is not a recommended approach towards a book. But I don’t consider myself much of a critic but an observer and an interpreter. After all readers, incl. critics who are also readers, respond to a book the way it has affected their inner self. That’s why I would like to trace the difficult path towards adulthood that passes by various social and individual stops. For me, that is what makes the book so significant. Because we all struggled and will continue to struggle such psychological battles on our way towards ‘know thyself’. I would like to begin with the way some critics approached Salinger’s work. Although each of them expressed different points of view which are too extreme I would like to consider them and try to find the truth somewhere in the middle. Ann Goodman commented that ‘Holden was so completely self-centered that any other characters who wandered through the book, with the exception of his sister, Phoebe, had no authenticity at all’.1 Of course, it’s not so surprising for a person that passes such a

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