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Plain and Simple for May 23, 2013
SoVaNow.com / May 23, 2013I spent some time re-reading The Catcher in the Rye the other weekend. My granddaughter, Anna, who just turned thirteen, grabbed it up and got interested in it. I had not touched it for well over thirty years and so I decided it might be a good idea to re-acquaint myself with this somewhat controversial book.
When I was in high school, I became enthralled with Salinger’s masterpiece and even tried to do a book report on it. At that time, I was told that the book had been banned by the school and I was not to do any such report. Of course, that attitude only deepened my attraction to it. I was certainly not alone, though. Generations of kids have found their touchstone in Holden Caulfield’s laments in The Catcher in the Rye.
In re-reading the book, I was struck by how I was touched very differently in places and, yet, there were still places where I felt just like the fifteen-year-old I was when I first read it. It was a little more vulgar than I remembered and that, no doubt was why some felt the need to ban it. On the other hand, who in the world has ever captured the mind of an adolescent boy like Salinger? Even though Holden is tottering on the edge of sanity, Salinger’s book, written in the early 1950s, rings true even today concerning what young boys and girls think about and go through. It is genius, pure and simple.
What really hit me the hardest, though, was that Holden constantly talks about “phonies.” He thinks that the world is full of “phonies.” What perhaps he does not realize is that he is just as phony as the next person; we all are. I could certainly see myself as a young, idealist person who looked at the world as full of phonies against whom I had to fight the good fight. It did not dawn on me then, as it does now, that I am just as guilty as the next person of putting up a false front most of the time.
Another novel getting much attention through a new movie today is The Great Gatsby. We find that Gatsby focuses attention and love on an object, Daisy, that is not worthy of that attention. By extension, the American people in the 1920s, exemplified in his wild parties, focused their love and attention on wealth and pleasure which were not worthy of their ardor. It seems to me that both problems, having a phony façade and running after unworthy goals, are addressed rather well in the New Testament. I love a good book but go back often to the bible for solutions to the problems of my life.
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