Posted by Darth Dobbin at 126.96.36.199 on January 30, 2001 at 10:30:03:
In Reply to: A sure cure for teenage mopes posted by B. Buster on January 30, 2001 at 09:23:08:
: Jesus, is there anything more pathetic than a self-absorbed teenage mope? Well, maybe a self-absorbed adult mope like J.D. Salinger (a nut case if ever there was one). Has any book done more damage to America's youth? I think not. Hell, even "Clerks" has a more positive message. At least the protagonists in "Clerks" still want to get laid, get high, and get away from dead end jobs. That's more than can be said for sad sack Holden and his delusional fantasy of catching kids at the edge of a field.
I have come to appreciate, and even look forward to Buster posting. I even enjoy the little exchanges with Breckiono.
I will say this, though- "problems," especially teenage problems, are like gases- No matter how objectively small an amount, they will expand to fill their container. Which is to say that while you, as an adult with (probably) some wisdom and perspective, can see that the "problems" of a "moping teen" are comparatively small to "real world" ones, they nevertheless expand within the mind of the moping teen in question to fill their whole universe. I think that EVERY teen with angst who comes across CATCHER IN THE RYE identifies with Caufield, and that this is a sort of rite of passage. Just as important, I feel, is the rejection of that character a little bit later, and a dread feeling of embarrasment at being so cliche. Salinger offers no out for that malaise; A PERFECT DAY FOR BANNANA FISH is the ultimate end result of too much Holden Caufield-ing.
I wholeheartedly agree with your ultimate take on Salinger, but submit that for a specific time in a teen's life- and yes, a very self-obsessed and ego-centric time- it strikes a chord, and provides a sort of comfort.
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