Song: The Carousel~ David Carbonara
I first heard this song during the infamous Carousel scene in Mad Men where Don makes his heart-wrenching sales pitch. I listened to this song throughout the ENTIRE time it took me to finish The Catcher in the Rye. And I thought it would be fitting for my analysis.
This is going to be long. I don't know if anyone will even read this, but if you do, I would like to say Thank You in advance.
I just finished reading The Catcher in the Rye. It was my first time reading it and I had heard so many things about this book. Especially at school because my teacher had read a list of commonly banned books here in the U.S and around the world.
The Catcher in the Rye was on that list.
Now, I feel the need to say that I have a certain...affinity for banned things. It makes me wonder why on earth they would be banned. Anyways, my school library doesn't carry thhis book and although I really wanted to read it, I decided to give up my hunt for it.
A couple of weeks ago, I was on the Barnes & Noble online site and I saw this book on the suggested reads section. I didn't care at that moment, so I bought it.
And I am so glad I did.
Its nice to read a book and then watch its movie, I admit. Although most of the time, I prefer the book to the movie (but thats just me). In this case though, It was weird to know that this book, will never be made into a movie. And I'm glad. This means that everything I picture in my head, will stay in my head. And lets be honest, I think I would punch someone if they ever did make this book into a movie.
But onto the story...
Holden Caulfield is so...honest. And I appreciate that.
The whole book is about him and how he got kicked out of his private school, Pencey, and his journey home to New York City. Now, the thing about Holden is the fact that he doesn't want to grow up.
He's scared of adulthood. In the book, he says that he's grown 6 inches in the past year and half of his head is full of grey hairs. Like most of us teenagers, I think its safe to say that we're on the same boat as Holden.
Anyways, Holden just wants somebody to listen to him. He talks to friends, old school teachers, a nun, a cab driver and he even pays a pros.titute NOT to have se.x with him, but to listen to him. he wants answers. He wants to know what the adult life is like. Yet no one listens to him.
Holden is caught up between adulthood and childhood. And he wants to be a protector of innoncene, hence the name The Catcher in the Rye. But at the same time, he wants to remain innocent himself. At one point, he even stops from throwing a snowball at a passing car because it "Looked so nice and white."
Holden does realize he is eventually going to become an adult, but in reality he doesn't want sex, power or anything like that. What he really wants is to stop time. He looks at time as a line. You start out at point A and end at point B. Thats it.
In fact, he remarks that the reason why he likes the Natural History Museum so much is because everything stays in its place. Exactly where it should be.
As I read the book, it came to the part where Holden first mentions his red hunting cap. I knew that from beforehand that that red hunting cap is a symbol of his. Furthermore, it's a symbol of protection. It protects him from showing his grey hair and it makes him so much more comfortable with himself.
And I like that.
Now, lets go to something aside from visuals. Lets go to the language.
As I've mentioned before, Holden Caulfield is a very honest guy. This first-person technique of narrating the story makes you feel like you're actually talking to him. Holden's way of narrating is very important. I mean, after all he is talking to you about the series of events that led him to a mental hospital. Anyone would figure that such emotions are too overbearing for oneself and as for Holden, it must've been, but he doesn't quite show it. At one point towards the end, he subtlely hints at sexual abuse. It's quite efficient. He uses a passive voice constantly and ironically, you're not supposed to use that as a writer or anything. I guess thats one of the things that makes J.D Salinger so...out there.
Holden does things in the NOW. At one point, he doesn't refer to Allie, his dead brother, as "he passed away" or "he died". Instead he says "He's dead now."Its a reminder that the dead don't stop being dead. They're ALWAYS going to be dead. Also, the way Holden talks about himself always makes him so minimal and perhaps that's exactly what Holden intends to do. It's his language that makes Holden so unique.
I'm sorry, I'm straying off the path again.
Anyways, here's the REAL reason why I'm writing this.
I was at the end of the book. Holden is back in NYC and he goes to visit his little sister, Phoebe. Now keep in mind that she is 10 and he is 16. (And it's worrth noting that almost everything she does "kills" him. It's quite cute.) She's a very important, although in a very subtle way, character and here's why:
There are many people who say that Holden Caulfield did not change. That he stays the same throughout the entire book. That there was no dramatic epiphany or anything. I don't believe that.
At the end of the book after he meets up with Phoebe at the museum and he denies letting her go away with him, she gets mad. Now, thats normal for any child. If you notice, little kids can be very stubborn, as was Phoebe in this case.
But then, Holden asks her, Listen, do you want to go for a walk?
And she listens. She LISTENS.
After going on such a long trip, desperate to find someone who can answer his questions and someone who can LISTEN to him, someone does.
And its Phoebe. It's always been Phoebe.
Holden says so himself. He remarks that although she is just a child, Phoebe was always the one who 'got' whatever he had so say.
The last scene of the book is a particularly striking scene as well. After Holden and Phoebe go for that walk, he takes her to the zoo and he lets her ride that carousel. Phoebe asks him if he wants to go, but he remarks that he's too old for that kind of stuff and so, she goes alone. Holden takes a seat and watches her. Then it starts raining and at that point he says,
"I didn't care though. I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. I don't know why. It was just that she looked so damn NICE, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all.
God, I wish you could've been there."
And there's the switch.
Theres the click.
Thats when Holden grows.
It may not be a huge change, but his perception of time has definitely changed. It went from being a straight line, to a circle. Almost like a carousel.
And after that, she goes and puts the hat on HIM.
It's almost as if she was saying, "Here. Take it. If it makes you who you are and it makes you feel comfortable, then wear it."
And he does. Holden wears that hat.
All because of Phoebe. She saves him. She always has and she always will.
And at that point, I started bawling.
I can't explain why. I really can't. This book is truly amazing. It's a classic that will resonate with many, many more generations to come. I definitely recommend it to everyone.
If you read all of this, Thank You. You are amazing.