Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Wanderer

J.D. Salinger expresses adolescent anguish in the The Catcher in the Rye through his protagonist, Holden, who is very critical of everything and everyone, and also aware of his own inconsistencies and shortcomings. He's a wanderer without much direction, literally and figuratively, having "flunked out" of prep school; he doesn't go home but stays in a hotel and wanders around the streets of NY. It's a period in life full of questioning and doubt and aimlessness, but also great flexibility and possibility. Holden disapproves of everything he considers to be "corny" (kids today say "lame") and as I mentioned before, he can't stand phonies and phoniness--anything "just for show"--movies and actors included. (I wonder if this is when people in general are at their most discerning in certain ways? I remember having similar highly critical feelings and attitudes when I was the same age.) I think Holden's quest in the book is for something real and true and lasting--so many of his own feelings are fleeting. I do not envy him at this stage in his life.

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