In my sister's middle school Catcher in the Rye is still banned. My little sister in her brilliance read it anyway. According to her, "If there's something they don't want me to know, I should go out of my way to know it." Out of the mouths of babes.
I remember reading Catcher in the Rye for the first time when I was about her age, tender 13. It was the first time I had ever read a book in which the hero was mad, like I was mad. Nothing worked for him, nothing made sense, the game for which everyone else seemed to understand the rules was unintelligible, mysterious, angering. It was the first time I really came to understand that the world, as much as others would deny this, does not reward the ones who don't know how to be anything other than themselves, who cannot subvert/pervert their true self to gain the supposed rewards of society. Rewards like what? Like becoming a soulless CEO who can ruin the livelihoods of millions of people just to meet their own selfish needs. Rewards like sitting at a desk for the rest of my miserable life, watching my psyche rot until one day I look inside myself and realize that a bullet to the brain would be more merciful than a slow, numbing decay. J.D. Salinger himself saw this and chose to retreat from the world, from fame, from everything and write for its own sake, write for himself.
Parents, teachers professed to want children, me to be creative while knowing full well that they had very specific rules for what they would allow me to create. As long as I was recreating a world in their image and likeness. And I couldn't. And he couldn't. And some might say this is a very depressing existential state to be in. Reading about someone I felt so connected to failing, going mad, being locked up and misunderstood. But it was quite the opposite. It was liberating to know that I may be paranoid, but they really were out to get me. And in Holden Caulfield, I saw the possiblity of failure without defeat, madness without destruction.
Submitted by thebenignconspiracy on