J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger, author of  The Catcher in the Rye, passed away this week at the age of 91. 

Generations of students and teachers have been forever changed by this acclaimed novel, one of my favourites ever since I discovered it as a teenager. I was very proud of myself when I managed to read it in English the first time, and have often revisited it since, especially when I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps. The Catcher in the Rye, narrated by main character and hero Holden Caulfield, is the story of Holden’s life in the few days after being expelled from his Pennsylvania prep school. Holden, one of the most sympathetic and complex young characters of all time,  is an incredibly intelligent, sensitive young man on the verge of becoming an adult who has trouble functioning in the real world.  

The Catcher in the Rye has been translated to many languages and has sold more than 60 million copies worlwide 59 years after its publication in 1951. It has also been banned more times than you want to count by zealous parents and educators. Not that anybody’s surprised by this (because of the profanity, sex, alcohol abuse, prostitution – need I go on?), but interestingly enough, it’s also frequently used as part of high school English classes and it has become required reading in every English department in America.

There are also some curious facts connected to Salinger’s novel. Mark David Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon, was carrying a copy of The Catcher in the Rye when he was arrested. John Hinckley Jr., the guy who tried to kill US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, was also a Caulfield fan.

If you want to know a bit more about the life and other works of this very secretive author, here is a link to a good article by the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8486169.stm

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4 Responses

  1. I have not read it yet, and I would like to know what is it about and why you like it so much? It sounds terrible. How can be recomended to High School students?

    • It’s not really so terrible – you know how ‘puritan’ some people can be. Of course, maybe he’s not the kind of role model you would like your kids to follow, but he’s a really lovable character. He´s just a teenager trying to come to terms with his own life, his loneliness, the fact that he’s growing up, and, most important, he’s trying hard to cope with the death of a little brother. It’s true he has some nasty habits, like drinking and smoking, and he has some questionable friends, but he feels so alone and abandoned by his family that I feel like I can indulge him.

      • the whole point is that he’s ill, he ends up in a clinic fighting the demons that pursued him. The loneliness is all a part of the terrible mental angst that can come upon any of us at any time in life. Adolescence being a particulary vulnerable time. Salinger has caught the terrible emotional turmoil that most high school students feel…some to a lesser or greater extent. For this reason it has been an enduring favourite ever since it was published.

  2. Why is it most people states the show is poor but its still very rated?

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