I Committed to a Book Club...and I Actually Finished the Book
I enjoyed this book and it is actually hard for me to explain why. What I’m going to tell you, though, is that this book brought some very hard feelings to face. And I’m not sure that ya’ll are going to like what I’m about to write. But then I remembered that I’m not writing for you to like it…I’m writing for you to know my opinion.
It makes me so incredibly sad when anyone feels like there is no way out. In the book, Holden just can’t take it anymore. He’s tired of pretty much every aspect of his life. I think much of that started when his little brother passed away. I just can’t imagine. In a lot of ways, Holden has given up. He’s “forced” to go to these schools full of “phonies” and people who ultimately make his life miserable. But he lets them do this…he let’s those people get to him. He just doesn’t know how to deal with much of what’s thrown at him…so he gives up or he fails all his classes except English…or he gets kicked out so many schools…or he gets in fights….or he leaves and hangs out in the city so he doesn’t have to go home to his parents and see the disappointment on their face. It makes me sad that he has to go through so much because he doesn’t feel like he has other options.
Much like Ian.
Ian grew up down the street from where my parents live and where I grew up. I remember when Ian and his family first moved in and I even remember babysitting for Ian and his brother several times. What I also remember are the problems Ian had. Let’s be honest, Ian had many issues and there were several challenges (chemically, emotionally, etc.) that he faced daily. Deep down (really deep down) you knew that Ian was a good kid…you just were never able to see this because all you saw were the terrible outbursts or fits…the trouble that he got in…and the hell he gave his parents, teachers and babysitters.
One day, Ian became tired of disappointed his parents. He couldn’t take the pain and consequences that came with the choices that he made. I honestly don’t think he was capable of processing these emotions, decisions and being accountable. (Holden and Ian seem to have MANY similarities in this way.) This young man who was always perceived as a demon, the bad kid…the trouble maker was just (I believe) a very scared “little boy” who could never process things the way many of us can. So when his mom left for Back to School Night, Ian knew that she was going to learn of all his failed and cut classes and just couldn’t take it. He just couldn’t hurt his mom anymore. Ian took his own life that night because he just didn’t think he had any other options. He couldn’t see anyway out. He was only 15 years old.
Holden Caulfield somehow made it through his battles. Somehow, he was able to pull through and find the light at the end of the tunnel. In this story, he made it through. It’s weird when you feel so much for a character in a book. It’s weird when you almost feel proud of Holden…or relieved that he made it through, at least to this point. It’s weird that you appreciate his sweetness for children. He thought that children shouldn’t have to see the ugliness that taints us a bit when we get older. His imagery of catching all the children (in the rye) so they didn’t get hurt or lost is very touching. In my opinion, that’s what kept him going. It’s what kept him pushing on. That vision, if you will, saw him through. Maybe that’s Salinger’s image of hope.