I’ve been questioning the underlying drives—historical, cultural, social, political, moral—that lead a man to behave like a man and a woman to behave like a woman. Why should a man or woman only present themselves according to how their culture or larger society dictates? I would think that for most people, to some extent or more, one only has to look in the mirror to see what’s actually there. But what if a man doesn’t like being as manly as he’s been socially taught to be? The same conundrum can apply to a woman’s case. I guess, being a man myself, I’ve never thought about these issues in much depth before. In this instance, however, it’s important to be open and honest about what I’m exploring here. That’s why I’ve written this article.
I can gladly say that The Catcher in the Rye was an important book for me at high school. It still is, though not in the same way that it used to be. I read it multiple times when I was younger, never failing each time to get drawn into the enthralling story of one Holden Caulfield, the lead character. I used to identify with him a lot more than I do now, probably because I'm currently learning how to live like a mature adult. This is something Caulfield never deals with, and I can understand why many readers would find such immaturity irritating. He never fully matures as a person. But in the context of the plot of Catcher, this side of his personality should make perfect sense to those who went through similar experiences when they were teenagers, and many teenagers are most likely going through them right now.
In a time of crisis we tend to not only reevaluate ourselves but our values and morals as well. We become scared, uncertain, in some cases terrified. With this comes the natural sense that we're meant to be doing something, that we're meant to be reacting in some way, to counter the major issue at hand. We start to look for advice, groping for some kind of reassurance in a world that’s changed dramatically over a very short period of time.
To me, this is the kind of book one can read over and over again without getting tired of it. It has only adopted greater depth and relevance over time, and every rereading seems to evidence this. For better or for worse, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the work that garnered Hunter S. Thompson, one of the most talented American writer-cum-journalists of recent memory, fame in the wider literary community. Still, Thompson, as with many other significant artists in history, was notorious for living to excess, and this fact often emerges through the boldly surrealistic style of Fear and Loathing.
Quentin loved trees, even when he was a young boy. They possessed a mystique, a universal charm, you could say, that always entranced him. In kindergarten he once played a tree for a play and refused to take off his costume for weeks afterward. He would even stand on street corners, still, not moving a muscle, for hours on end. People stared at him. Quentin’s family began to refer to him as “Quentin Tree”, a nickname he always loved. He never stopped loving it, even when people made fun of it. He would casually walk past everyone, never stopping to explain himself.