Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 6:07:14 PM
In the ultimate classic, “The Catcher in the Rye,” Salinger portrays Holden Caulfield, a confused and conflicted teen that seems to only find refuge in his little sister, Phoebe, whom he labels as pure and not “phony.” Through Holden’s eyes, an adult is fake, and Holden wants to “catch” all kids from growing up.
My father’s always challenged me to read books that are above my range, so when he shoved a beige, old book in my face on a breezy Sunday afternoon, I couldn't say I was surprised. I could say, though, that I was disappointed.
The book was practically falling apart, there were rips in the pages, and the font was too small. Everything that wasn't to my liking, I picked at it and yelled at my dad about how stupid this was going to be. He only looked at me with hurt eyes, pointed at “The Catcher in the Rye,” and exited my room.
An hour and a half later, I finished the last page and started crying.
Tears came spilling out of eyes, and I tried my hardest to make myself inaudible. I mean, how embarrassing was that going to be if my parents caught me sobbing?
I realized that Holden was right.
I’d been too preoccupied with dealing with friends, boys, and social media to see that I had been hurting the people around me. I would shove my sister away when she was only trying to help, I would blow up at my parents if they didn't let me go somewhere, and I would act like I was capable of living on my own, when in fact, I was still I kid.
My innocence was slowly fading. I would take behind my friends’ backs. I’d smile at one person one minute and then trash them the next. I’d yell at people for no apparent reason, just to make myself feel superior. I was fake, mean, and phony.
My life had been taken over by the idea of growing up that I didn't realize that I actually was, but not in the way that I wanted to. I was becoming one of the adults in Salinger’s book, someone that was corrupt and only cared about themselves.
I cried even harder when I reread the last few pages, in which Holden was crying when watching how pure Phoebe looked when riding on a carousel.
I want to be pure. I want to be a kid. I want to catch all of the children, just like Holden. It’s impossible, though, because everyone grows up, one way or another, and it’s up to them to figure out if they want to become phony or not.
Salinger helped me understand that being a child is the most important part of your life. Though you’re not making most of your own decisions, it’s when you’re the most pure. It’s when you’re the least phony, and that is something everyone should take pride in.