Reading Response to Catcher in the Rye by Grant Maher
Hello, Dr. Patten. My name is Holden Caulfield.Surprised? I knew you would be. I come all the way from New York to talk to ya, you sexy thing. So what if I’m a fictitious character. That doesn’t mean I’m phony, not at all. I really do exist, in an alternate sort of world. And this silly cat in your Teen Lit class, Old Grant, goes and invites me to occupy his so-called mind and use his spindly arms to tap out a little essay for ya. So what I thought I’d do, I thought I’d just go ahead and do it, and all. It so happens I like to write, sometimes.
I bet you’re just dying to know what happens and all when I get out of the hospital. Just, dying. See, time has gone by in my world too. I’m 65 years old, now. Hey, do the math. A lot of water under the bridge, and all. And since you seem to be interested, I’ll talk about it.
After the hospital and all, things got better. Me and Old Jane got together. I mean, we really got together. What I mean to say is, I kinda got over my fear of sex. In fact, Old Jane and I still do it quite a bit, which is surprising considering we’ve been married for forty-one years[. . .]. I once asked her about that one date with Old Stradlater, by the way. Didn’t even get to second base, she says. I believe her.
I went back to see Old Maurice, too, just ’cause I felt like telling him he was forgiven. Not that he’d care, but just because I felt like, you know, closing my account with him and all. But he was gone. Heart attack, they said. I find my memory of those days getting fuzzy. Funny, I can still remember Old Allie sharp and clear, although I don’t really talk to him when I get sad, anymore. He’s OK.
In fact, I’m OK. I basically wanted to tell you, Dr. Patten, that I turned out just fine. In fact, you can call me Dr.Caulfield. I teach English at Pencey. Surprised? I knew you wouldn’t be.
As far as being a "Catcher in the Rye" (God, that J.D.sure could name a book), what I do, is I keep a sharp eye out for the loner, the kid that doesn’t seem to be fitting in. And I talk to this kid, and pretty soon I find out what it is he’s hiding. If I’m vigilant, I can stop a child from falling over the cliff. I’m not sure, but I think that it qualifies. As being a Catcher, and all.
Now, Old Grant is telling me he needs a Reading Response for your class. He says use number 14. Let’s see–about how J.D. uses the theme of disappearances in the book. Well, for instance those ducks on the lagoon in Central Park. I used to really wonder where in the Hell those ducks went in the winter, when things froze up. In a way, I was also wondering about myself. Where in the Hell was I going to go when things got tough for me? When winter was closing in? When adulthood and its disillusionments could no longer be postponed? Should I go to Montana as a deaf mute with Sally?
No, instead I just cracked up and went to the mental hospital. I guess I was just hypersensitive and extra scared, is all. I just learned to endure. And I learned to get out of myself. Intimacy vs. Isolation. Yes, we have Erickson in my world too. I learned to endure the pain of loving someone, because in caring for others is the meaning of life, the reason to soldier on. Pheobe helped me realize that. So there you have it. And now I’ve got to go. I’ve got to get ready to take Jane to the movies. I don’t hate the movies anymore.