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An Open Love Letter to Holden Caulfield and 'The Catcher in the Rye'

And Why You Should Read It If You Haven't Yet

By Victoria BrownPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

When it isn’t busy being banned, The Catcher in the Rye is a novel that is commonly read in high school English classes, and for a good reason; it’s a literary masterpiece. But to teenagers, Holden Caulfield is like a familiar stranger caught up in the world of adolescence. His angst, which J.D. Salinger managed to capture so perfectly, is relatable between generations. We’re all restless, we’re all dissatisfied, and as Holden would say, we’re all tired of phonies. There comes a point in our lives where, suddenly, we are stuck in a purgatory between childhood and adulthood, but we aren’t craving the adult life; we’re craving the choice to be who we want to be and to escape it all.

Holden became a symbol and icon for teen angst and rebellion, leading him to become one of the most important literary characters of the 20th century, and leading The Catcher in the Rye to be one of the most relatable works taught to high schoolers, even though some parent and school organizations have banned the novel based on “sexual references, use of profanity, and glorification of rebellion.” Even though The Catcher in the Rye was published more than 50 years ago, and some of the references have become outdated, the morals and actions of Holden are still felt in today’s teenagers.

For me, The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books; out of my top three, it places second. But like any book that soon becomes a favorite, the time that you read it is pivotal. If I hadn’t first read the book the summer before I started college, it wouldn’t have had the same affect on me that it did. Being 16 and on the cusp of starting a new chapter in my life, I understood why Holden did what he did. I understood his distaste of society and how everything was just a façade. If I could have, I think I would have chosen to run around New York City with Holden instead of facing my reality of growing up. If Holden was a real person, I could see myself wanting to be with him.

I could just imagine myself running around New York City with Holden, discussing how phony everyone is and how we could just run away like he said or we could continue to hide out in the city until we ran out of money and had to go back to reality. I sympathize with him for wanting to save children from losing their innocence while growing up and keeping them from the realities of growing up. I remember how I felt when I realized I had lost my innocence and grew up, and I try to give warning and guidance to underclassmen who ask me for advice; I try to be their catcher in the rye and be the person I wish I had when I was their age.

And while The Catcher in the Rye and Holden have negative influences in pop culture, like in the shooting of John Lennon, the positive influences and legacy of the novel outweigh the negatives. Holden is a broken character, and by no means is he perfect, but he is relatable, and the way the novel is written from his perspective, like you’re sitting in a room talking to him, is what makes everything so relatable and understandable. If you’re lost and pissed off at the world and you decide to read the novel, you feel like you aren’t alone in your distaste for the world and you can sympathize with Holden; it’s a novel worth reading.

So if you haven’t had the luxury of reading The Catcher in the Rye and you have a need for running away from phonies, I recommend you go to your nearest library and make acquaintance with Holden Caulfield.


About the Creator

Victoria Brown

twenty-three & longing.

lover of words, tea, & antiques.

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