7.23.2013

I think I get it now

Still a punk.
(By Risaaa, via deviantART)
I hated The Catcher in the Rye when I read it. First impressions are hard to get over, and impressions formed when you're young are even harder to get over. My impression of Catcher was that it was a product of its time, and that you had to be of that generation to get it. When I read it, I was a teenager. But I wasn't a disaffected, jaded teenager. And I figured that was why the book just didn't work for me. My opinion of the main character colored my entire reading of the book.

Earlier today, I got into a conversation with a coworker about what makes a book a classic, what to collect for the library, etc. As usual with this particular coworker, we ended up talking about the "Great American" novels. I brought up The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye as examples of books that I never really understood. And this coworker explained the ending of Catcher as a metaphor for Caulfield's love of childhood innocence, before people construct personae and barriers between themselves and other people. Children don't do that. They just are. They enjoy things because they like them, not because they should like them. As he went on, I felt like I actually started to understand the purpose of the book. I don't know if I'm ready to actually reread the book. My first impression is still strong.

The other thing that makes me thing that I might, in the near future, be able to read, understand, and possibly enjoy The Catcher in the Rye is that I've recently read books where the narrator or main character was a jerk or worse and liked the books. Maybe I've grown as a reader and matured. (Though that might not be a good sign when it comes to Catcher.)

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