The great C.S. Lewis had opined - "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest
" - and who, indeed, would dare contradict him?
I had kept myself away from the The Chronicles of Narnia
for a long time, believing I had already outgrown that phase of my life that would've endeared me to this famed set of fantasy tales written for children.
Eventually, when I did read [b:The Magician's Nephew|65605|The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)|C.S. Lewis|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1308814770s/65605.jpg|1031537], I realized how hopelessly wrong I was.
With The Catcher in the Rye
, I'm faced with the same realization all over again.
Some books are written so well, so masterfully that you are bound to get the message the writer had slipped in, skilfully, somewhere between its pages for the perceptive reader to find and cherish like treasure, only if you care to lay off the preordained feelings and biases.
Sure, I agree, nothing ever happens in this book. The prose, in Holden's own overused words, can be described as 'boring'
and insipid in my own. But that is what Salinger had wanted it to be.
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have liked Holden had I read this as a teen. I would've considered him a whiny, nitpicking pain in the rear. A kid trying to sound and behave like an adult and, of course, failing at it miserably.
But now that I'm a full-fledged adult, capable of knowing what I want and what I don't, I can understand Holden much better. And I can't help but feel a sort of grudging respect for Holden's daring act of breaking away even if for a little while, from the compulsions and responsibilities that life threw his way, the expectations of peers and adults surrounding him.
His voice is so full of recalcitrance, loneliness, resentment and all the amorphous emotions of that age, that it's near impossible not to relate to it.
A sense of pure isolation, a feeling of being adrift in the big, bad world, sometimes with barely anything or anyone acting as an anchor. Faced with problems you previously did not even know existed, an ever-widening gap with the members of the opposite sex. A mass of confusing, blurry thoughts swirling inside your head that you would rather prefer to push away than disentangle one by one and analyze. Sometimes not being sure of what you want to do and what you are supposed to do. Stuck somewhere in a time-warp, on the brink of adulthood yet not quite so. Demanding to be treated with respect and dignity like an adult, yet to be loved as a child.
I'm sure we have all gone through the same motions at some point of time in our lives.
Holden reminds us of that period even if we may not see in him the teenager each one of us had been, individually. He is simply a personification of those confusing, bitter, hazy years that precede the surer, firmer, more secure years.
And if we maybe honest enough with ourselves we'll find a Holden, all holed up somewhere in the darkest recesses of our psyche, eternally disdainful and critical of the people and things around him. It's just that we've gotten better at keeping 'him'
hidden and swallowing urges to lash out at the 'phoniness'
of it all.
Holden's appeal is timeless. And I'm quite sure, I'll like this book when I read it again, years down the line.
And for this reason alone, The Catcher in the Rye
rightly deserves the epithet of a true classic.
This is THE
YA novel. And, perhaps, will always be. P.S:-
My love for this book is not to be interpreted as an endorsement of teenage delinquency or rebellious/anti-social behavior.