“I think that one of these days… you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there.”
“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”
I always hated the Catcher in the Rye. I think the first time I read it I wondered how it could possibly be a book that was worthy of study in English literature, and I refused to let myself be shaped by it because I thought that becoming someone like Holden would deem me some sort of failure in the eyes of the man in the mirror. The I read it again before grade 11, and that’s when I had learned the valuable lessons that this book had in store. I still dislike the book though. However I’ve always wondered something about the book, of all the literary texts I have read, old and contemporary, why is Catcher always the one that remains the most relevant out of everything? Is it not incredible that teenage audiences find Catcher so relevant nearly 70 years after being published? Why has it not been rendered obsolete after having been put through decades of paradigm shifts and technologically advanced readers since its publication in 1951. And only recently I’ve come up with an explanation, so long as boys and girls are uncertain about their future and adulthood, so long will Holden Claulfield’s struggle exist.
Looking back now to the time when I read the book I can truly say that I am inspired by this story, though it is simple and through it is rather somber for my liking. J.D. Salinger had offered me wisdom that I think will last my entire lifetime because what he wrote is so true and meaningful and I do believe that is has made me a better man; I have come to learn and appreciate all works of art, because above all art is an adventure of the mind, I have gained a sense of clarity and poise that I would otherwise still be searching for. It taught me to appreciate the beauty in life and actively be a part of that beauty, while never rejecting what’s corrupt in this world and working.
And the quotes mentioned above are two that have particularly impacted me especially the latter. I was always told that I will be remembered after I die for what I did in my life, and I focused so much on what events would occur after I die that I forgot how to live life itself, because I don’t get to see what happens after I die, I rot and decompose; nothing will matter to me by that point. However while I am alive I can actively shape my destiny and the destiny of those around me for the better. When my eyes reached that point of the quote, “the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” I placed the book down. I wrote it down. And then I sat there thinking to myself, what would I live for and how would I live. It was in that moment that I had learned a valuable lesson; that holding on to destiny that someone else has crafted for you is the instrument of your ultimate destruction, one can only embrace their destiny if they discover it for themselves. And I asked myself what I wanted. I am still tossing and turning over this idea in my head; when I become an adult what will I dedicate my life to? Will it be something that makes me eager to leap from my bed in the morning and go pursue said goal, for years until I die?
Now because of Salinger and Catcher I believe I have become a far wiser individual that I have been in the past. Rather then hearing things I have learned to listen, rather than seeing, I observe. I notice now that I act on a sense of rationality, I evaluate and determine outcomes and surprisingly I and correct, I see history repeating itself and consistently rant about it.