I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever understand why exactly people hate Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher in the Rye”.
I mean, sure, you could defend your dislike with a classic gem such as, “Oh, he’s just a whiny, pretentious f***boy! He’s so boring, all he does is complain!”
But at that I’m just like
okay, wow, I’m sorry the incredibly depressed mentally ill teenager who has no true friends and is constantly being ignored by the people he tries to reach out to and is constantly being told he’s useless and a bad influence by his peers and has alluded to being sexually molested by multiple people as a little kid and has to deal with the pain and hardship of growing up in a world he can’t help but see as superficial and hypocritical and WHOSE CLASSMATE FRICKIN’ COMMITTED SUICIDE IN FRONT OF HIM isn’t a conventionally cheerful or likeable protagonist????
I don’t understand why that’s so hard for people to grasp; it just straight up BAFFLES me. I mean, people eke out all sorts of ways to like downright villains like Alex (DeLarge) or Loki or Ramsay Snow/Bolton, or antiheros like Jaime/Cersei Lannister, Sherlock Holmes, etc.
Why is it so hard to dole out a little sympathy for Holden, who, ultimately, just wants to protect children from the evils of the world—arguably one of the noblest and most heartbreakingly tender aspirations of all?
On the 65th anniversary of its publication, I wrote about why I own 20 copies of Catcher:
When I first read it, at 20, Catcher was a revelation, but not for the reason you might assume: I fell in love with the language. It is still one of the most exquisitely rendered character studies I’ve ever read. The originality and power and consistency of the voice, so brilliantly controlled, so precisely deployed, not a word out of place. I got goosebumps reading it. It lit a fire in my emerging writer brain: Oh… that’s how you do that.
-Which fictional character in literature or films would describe you best? -Holden Caulfield (in JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye), maybe. Just for the feeling of alienation. The only thing Holden Caulfield wants to do throughout this whole book is to call this girl, and he never manages to call her, he never manages to get through. And that sums up my life quite well
Ad ogni modo, mi immagino sempre tutti questi ragazzi che fanno una partita in quell'immenso campo di segale eccetera eccetera. Migliaia di ragazzini, e intorno non c'è nessun altro, nessun grande, voglio dire, soltanto io. E io sto in piedi sull'orlo di un dirupo pazzesco. E non devo fare altro che prendere al volo tutti quelli che stanno per cadere nel dirupo, voglio dire, se corrono senza guardare dove vanno, io devo saltar fuori da qualche posto e acchiapparli. Non dovrei fare altro tutto il giorno. Sarei soltanto l'acchiappatore nella segale e via dicendo. So che è una pazzia, ma è l'unica cosa che mi piacerebbe veramente fare. Lo so che è una pazzia.