Big Think posted an article today posing the question: Is Holden Caulfield Obnoxious? Stating, “Either you found him a kindred spirit in your youth and continue to sympathize with him–less blindly, more wistfully–as you age; or else you found him a whiner then and you find him a whiner now.”
I only bring this up because I’ve had this exact thought several times in my adulthood but never had the time to flush it out and certainly never had the time to write an article about it. So now that Big Think has done it for me I get to expound.
When I read Catcher in The Rye in high school I thought it was Ah-mazing. The words, “best book ever” may have even left my lips. So when I picked it back up as senior in college during a phase where I wanted to re-read books that I loved, I was horrified to find Holden an obnoxious, incessant whiner. So much so I discontinued my re-reading of books that I loved for fear I would end up hating more of them. Anyway, the point is this: where you are in your life can have a great impact on how you interact with a book, movie, or even, how you might vote. In this case, I lost my somewhat unfounded crush on Holden. Yet, I didn’t lose my appreciation for how Salinger portrayed him. He is still just as complex as he ever was and his complexity serves to drive the story. The Big Think article points out many great details regarding Holden and I’d recommend anyone who is a fan to enjoy the read. However, it did get me thinking about other books that, as I age, I’ve lost a little puppy love for. For example, I loved Kerouac’s On The Road the first time I read it. I still love it today, but for different reasons. In my youth I was convinced I needed to live my life with as much passion and reckless abandon as his characters. Their freedom scared and inspired me. And now? Now, Dean’s still as good looking as I imagined as a teen, and I’d let him buy me a drink in a bar, but at 11pm when my eyelids got heavy and he started musing about a drive to San Franciso, I’d run (not walk) in the other direction.