Valerie (valeriejoy) wrote,

The Catcher in the Rye

It's been MANY years since I first read this book, but after getting a parent complaint (yes, in this day and age, people still want to complain about this novel), I thought it was time to reacquaint myself with this classic.

It's still a great read. Holden's voice comes through strong and filled with angst. Even though I knew the basic story, it still felt like new. And when I finished it, I felt justified in my opinion that people are idiots for complaining about books (or movies) without having ever read (or watched) the said book (or movie).

I must repeat, how can you complain (and call to complain) about something you haven't read yourself?! This parent in question, a mother of a teenage daughter, was offended (yes, offended) that her daughter was made to read a book at that had the F-word in it. In this mother's opinion, if it's in a book, then kids think that it's okay to say outloud. Really? Seriously, really? You haven't taught her daughter enough common sense to know the difference between a book and real life? And do you really think that your daughter doesn't hear worse in the quad between classes in HIGH SCHOOL?

Yes, high school. Not middle school, high school.

Sometimes I just feel sorry for people.

When the mother asked my opinion, I tried to keep it short because I began to think that she's perhaps some kind of moron. I told her that it was all about reading it in context. And she argued back at me! It doesn't matter about context, blah blah blah. I went on and said that I'd read it myself and I repeated the whole context thing. She didn't really reply back at that one, she just went on with her argument. And then I knew she was certainly a moron because she hadn't even read the book, which meant that we couldn't have an intelligent conversation.

BTW, the F-word appeared on page 201 of 214 pages of my version of The Catcher in the Rye. If this concerned parent had taken the time to read the passage, she might have noticed that the narrator doesn't actually say the F-word to anyone. He sees it and is actually distressed about it. As angsty and irreverent Holden Caulfield is, something in him recognizes the disrespect of seeing "F--- You" on a wall. He imagines children seeing it and wondering about it and he goes a little crazy inside about it. And oh yes, Holden Caulfield is a little crazy inside. It's one of the things about him.

So, I feel better that I've re-read The Catcher in the Rye. It still holds up in its narrative voice and Holden's despair still reflects much in the world today. It's definitely a novel that incites discussion and reflection. And apparently it's still a novel that brings controversy.

Well done.
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