Like Huck Finn, to whom Holden Caulfield is constantly compared, the hero of The Catcher in the Rye is usually described as a rebel, either against the materialism and ugliness of “our society” or against the realities of the adult world. But he does not make a very satisfactory rebel because he is not for anything. Everybody knows that the well-adjusted, successful “adult” rebel should have a positive program; otherwise, after all, is he not merely another anarchist? Among the critics who knew that Holden lacked a positive program was Phoebe Caulfield, his sister, who complains that he doesn’t like anything that’s happening.
There are critical attempts that attempt to show that he is, after all, for some things, and that thse things, complicated as they appear, do actually add up to love. But love gets nowhere on the barricades; it is ideologically neutral and no ubstitute either for a plan of attack or for a program of reform. The alleged futility and immaturity of Holden’s rebellion are most strikingly expressed by the likes of critics, the John Aldridge types of the times and their progeny that defend the phonies, bores, and deceivers whom Holden so dislikes.
They ” constitute a fair average of what the culture affords. They are part of the truth which Holden does not see , and as it turns out, is never able to see- that this is what one part of humanity is: the lies, the phoniness, the hypocrisy are the compromises which innocenceis forced by the world to make. This is the reality on which Holden’s illusionis finally broken, but no recognition follows, and no conversion. He remains at the end what he was at the beginning- cynical, defiant and blind.” Henry Grunwald: But it was precisely “what the culture affords” that Holden rebelled against. So did the Beats. Up to a point despair must be respected, even if it seems unearned.
Above image and content from: http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2010/01/four-ways-of-looking-at-j-d-salinger/.
Aldridge’s passage is almost dazzling in its obtuseness in feeling that Holden should “grow up,” accept the world for what it is, and live in it. This is a perfectly sound, conservative recommendation, if somewhat startling in that it was found in a book entitled In Search of Heresy. But taken seriously and logically, this kind of advice would put romanticism out of business and abolish tragedy. It is the kind of advice, still echoing today, that most of us, whose lives are neither romantic or tragic, are forced to give sooner or later- and to take.
But there are some who are simply not like most of us, who cannot accept the human condition for what it is,who cannot resign themselves to the existence of injustice, ugliness, and pain; and who cannot accept the theological argument that suffering is a part of god’s equation. Like the line of Ivan Karamazov: If the suffering of children serves to complete the sum of suffering necessary for the acquisition of truth, I affirm from now onward that truth is not worth such a price.”
One may regard this attitude as childish and futile, but it also contains the ultimate rebellion: against god. Huck Finn is perhaps a little closer to that rebellion than Holden; Huck can say, “All right, then I’ll go to hell,” but Holden has no hell to go to, at last no hell as specific as Huck’s. It may seem preposterous to apply such terms as sanctity , even with due qualifications, to this prep-school fugitive. But to call him saintly is really no more of an exaggeration than to call him blind and cynical. If we must exaggerate, let us exaggerate in the right categories.
( see link at end) …Jack Skow claims that Salinger offered Franny to Claire Douglas as a wedding-present when he married her in 1955. He also claims that Claire pacified her family by the assurance that her prospective husband lived with his mother, sister fifteen Buddhist monks, and a yogi who stood on his head”, Claire was introduced to mysticism, and her brother Gawain recalls She was hung on the Jesus Prayer”. From this point on Salinger’s private life remains a complete enigma; the only certain detail is that he fathered two children. It was also at this time
that Salinger began to express his ideas solely through the medium of the Glass family; he constructed an elaborate mythology aro
the poet-seer figure of Seymour who committed suicide in “A Perfect Day for Bananafish in 1948. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters”, the story of how Seymour was absent from his own wedding followed in November, 1955; the saga then developed with the publication of Zooey in 1957, Seymour: An Introduction in 1959, and Hapworth 16, 1924 in 1965.
The last stories, or novelettes, are complex experiments in form and point of view; by showing his characters communicating by monologue, letter, diary, messages scrawled on mirrors and pieces of paper, and by telephone, Salinger seems to be straining at the limit mere words impose upon his characters, and so upon himself. Meanwhile Buddy, with whom Salinger closely but never wholly identifies, writhes uncomfortably in the role of narrator, and in order to break down the barriers between fiction and reality, assaults the reader with asides, parentheses and direct address. The reader with his “enviable, goddam silence” remains out here, unable to ask Salinger when his next story will appear.Read More:http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5830&context=opendissertations&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F
Wallace Markfield wrote this about his first novel, The Landsmen, on Amazon.com.
The Landsmen is a novel of Jewish-American roots. Set in the village of Golinsk in Czarist Russia at the end of the nineteenth century, it evokes life under a system of massively cruel anti-Semitism. The word “landsmen” in Yiddish means people from the same place, but in this novel it conveys the larger meaning of “brothers”—in suffering, in faith, in humanity.
Peter Martin wrote the novel from the memories of the old people he knew as a boy in Brooklyn. The result is a work of fiction that is rich in a sense of time and place. The effect is bardic. Each section of the novel is narrated by one of nine characters: Yeersel, the tailor; Maisha, the religion teacher; Laib, the musician; Shim, his brother; Nochim, the dairyman; Berel, the watercarrier; Laib-Shmul, the butcher; Tzippe-Sora, the distiller; and Mottel, the outcast. Some migrated to America; some died in Golinsk.
First published in 1952, The Landsmen was the first volume of a projected trilogy, and was written to establish a sense of Jewish identity as the background for a large fictional examination of Jewish-American life. Although The Landsmen was well received and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, it was never republished. The second volume of the trilogy, The Building, appeared in 1960. Peter Martin died in 1961.Read More:http://howieinseattle.blogspot.ca/2010_06_01_archive.html