The Catcher in the Rye The Catcher in the Rye question


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School Shootings and CITR
Monty J Heying Monty J (last edited Jan 04, 2013 01:31PM ) Dec 14, 2012 12:48PM
My condolences to the families, friends and acquaintances of children lost in the Connecticut school shooting today.

I'm wondering if anyone besides me thinks of Holden Caulfield when there's a school shooting like this. My mind automatically goes to that final scene, with Phoebe going round and round on the carousel and Holden "damn near bawling."

Each one of those kids killed in Connecticut was a delicate, vulnerable human being. As were the adults. In Catcher in the Rye, Salinger was saying that we should be aware and protective not just of children but of all mankind. He finished the book after returning from war: Utah Beach at Normandy, The Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of a concentration camp and working in military intelligence, where he interrogated battle-scarred and wounded enemy soldiers. He'd been hospitalized for battle fatigue, militaryspeak for a nervous collapse, an extreme form of today's PTSD.

And people say THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is outdated and irrelevant?

The book will remain forever a warning that we need to be vigilant and protect not just our children from school shootings, but all of mankind, from danger of every kind.

Those who don't get The Catcher in the Rye can at least get the concept of protecting children and work backward from there.



I think Monty J hit the nail on the head. An important detail in the story is the only people Holden liked were kids (sister, brother, etc.). Anyone his age or up he complained about. He longed for an earlier, less complicated time. I think he would have been full of rage about this senseless crime; he would have seen it as an attack on the only thing he loved. It would be like the kids falling off the cliff at the edge of the rye field.


my take this on CITR is about alienation of an individual in an increasingly material and consumerist society (see the reference to Princeton/Hollywood/the fakeness of academics), but he is still connected to the things he holds dear (his sister, memory of his deceased brother), representing his compassionate and as yet still-connected side. My interpretation on this if related to today's society is the challenge on how to reach kids like this and to help them to believe they truly have a role to play (and that it will be worth it) in creating tomorrow's world.


Maggie (last edited Dec 14, 2012 01:10PM ) Dec 14, 2012 01:02PM   0 votes
a noble cause: protect the children. yes. otherwise the irrelevance i see is that the accoutrements of a character circa 1950s, such as holden just can't been seen clearly by today's readers. his purpose desires and fears ... yes. those are timeless.


Monty J, you have put to words the present day Holden...


Well said, David.


It's been so long since I read this book that I would have to read it again to see a connection. Interesting take on this Monty.


Well put Monty. May more young people find purpose and inspiration to do good. Indeed many do, but that is not covered by the instantaneous media as heavily.


I agree and disagree with this. Mental health issues do not equal violence, as everyone has been trying to argue after the shooting at Newtown. There were two shootings in schools in the past week in the US, both on the news, and nobody has made a big stink about it--because they weren't small children. But we can't forget that they were somebody's daughter, best friend, niece, or student, and they had a future.

Making connections to literature does not make a situation less resonant, nor does it mean anything or necessarily connect to a tragedy. There are so many people today with so many mental health issues, so many kids with parents who couldn't care less about their child's well being, whereabouts or state of mind. It was present in the book just like it's present today. Salinger's social commentary did not make Columbine happen, did not make VA Tech happen, and did not make Newtown happen. The ubiquitous mental problems that were unresolved in each of the shooter's minds made these tragedies happen.

People are much too quick to compare popular culture or give things a label or a reason. Mental health does not equal violence.


It's been ages since I read this book, but it is in no way to be blamed for the senseless tragedy that occurred in Connecticut. This book implores us to open our eyes to the real evils in the world and is just as relevant now as it was before. I love this book.


I just stumbled upon this conversation and thought I'd check it out.

Are you seriously thinking that Catcher in the Rye is somehow connected to the Connecticut tragedy? Really?


so refreshing
not to start out, or as of yet discuss
reasons why this novel/author
are to blame,
yet again.
On a misfortunate tragedy


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