Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.
There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.
This book has considered to be one of the most controversial books of the 21st century due to the polarizing criticisms of the text. Some may say they loved it and others will say they hated it – either you identify with Holden Caulfield or you don’t. In my case, I did – what a perfect piece of literature it was.
Some may read this book and find it whiny, petulant, and endless. I found it to be absolutely hilarious, sad, and relatable. I am someone who loves the notion of living like a child forever – enjoying the TRUE joy of things. I empathize with Holden on a certain level, but I do understand how others find him to be insufferable.
And while he CAN be insufferable, he is a wanderer and definitely not a phony. This is a great work of literature. Timeless!
Coming-of-age: a genre of literature, film, and video that focuses on the growth of a protagonist from youth to adulthood. Coming-of-age stories tend to emphasize dialogue or internal monologue over action, and are often set in the past.
”What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” – Holden Caulfield