I don't get it...
I know that there’s something about Catcher in the Rye that I’m supposed to get. I know that there’s something about it that makes it a good focal point for the movie Conspiracy Theory (which taught me that presidential assassins like it). I just don’t get it.
All I see is the story.
Holden’s reactions to things are what interest me the most. As I see it, he’s got a few emotions that surface repeatedly. There’s disgust. There’s pity. There’s admiration.
He is disgusted by the “phonies.” He disgusted by morons. He was often disgusted by himself, as well, though. Maybe he thought that he was a phony some of the time. I think he was. He pretended to like people he didn’t really like just to avoid loneliness, after all. He faked being older to impress the ladies. I think that he tried to fool himself, most of the time, into thinking that he wasn’t exactly like the people that he was disgusted by.
There is so much in the story that deserves pity, but Holden pretty much monopolizes it for other people. The way he talks down about almost everyone and about how sad they make him indicates that we ought to be feeling quite that sorry for the poor guy who can’t figure things out.
He does admire people, though. He admires the hell out of them… until they do something that makes him lose faith in them. Everyone that he speaks well of, he ultimately speaks poorly of.
What I think is that the way Holden feels about other people is the way he really feels about himself. I think this is true for a lot of people. The people who love other people outwardly and openly love themselves, too. The junior high kids I deal with constantly disparage others because they feel terrible about themselves.
Maybe this is only true of the immature. Maybe it is only true for some people. Maybe it isn’t true at all.
What do I know… I don’t get symbolism.