It's been, as usual, another very busy day off. I've been studying English with my niece all day through, she's got her first English Language Exam at university tomorrow, so she wanted to be reassured by this old ex-ex student. By the way, good luck, Mari!
Then, after preparing some stuff for my classes - reading some pages from Orwell's "Animal Farm" and Woolf's "Mrs Dalloway" as well as preparing a Reading and Writing Test - here I am to my blog/s and my mates on line.I've just had a look at some of the blogs I follow and in one of them I've found a short post about Jerome David Salinger fighting back to defend his own "creature", Holden Caufield, from being improperly used in silly sequels. The authoress of the post wondered what might happen if Jane Austen were alive since her characters and plots have been used in sequels, adaptations and similar stuff thousands of times. You can have a look at the post at JANE AUSTEN TODAY.
Well, I'm not going to write about our beloved J.A. tonight but just about young Holden Caulfield, a complicated, sensitive 16-year-old boy I've loved since the first time I met him in the pages of Salinger's cult novel "THE CATCHER IN THE RYE" ( Il Giovane Holden) , several years ago.
Teenagers are not easy to cope with ... and he is no exception. Only, he is so special I could even love being his mother or teacher. Mind, I know it wouldn't be easy at all since he tends to be expelled from schools and collect bad marks, but I'm sure I could get on with him.
What about you?
Read this conversation between he and his sister Phoebe when he comes back home after escaping from the last college he had been expelled from and after wandering around New York City for a few days... "Old Phoebe", 1o years old, wants to know why he escaped from school and disappeared for a few days and if there is anything he likes in his life, because he doesn't seem to like anything...
"You can't even think of one thing"
"Yes, I can, I can"
"Well do it, then"
"I like Allie", I said. "And I like doing what I'm doing right now. Sitting here with you, and talking , and thinking about stuff, and - "
"Allie's dead. You always say that!If somebody's dead and everything and in heaven, then it isn't really -"
"I know he's dead! Don't you think I know that? I can still like him though, can't I? Just because somebody's dead, you don't just stop liking them, for God's sake - especially if they were about a thousand times nicer than the people you know that're alive and all"
Old Phoebe didn't say anything. When she can't think of anything to say, she doesn't say a goddam word.
"Anyway I like it now," I said "I mean right now. Sitting here with you and just chewing the fat and horsing-"
"That isn't anything really!"
"It is so something really! Certainly it is! Why the hell isn't it? People never think anything is anything really. I'm getting goddam sick of it."
"Stop swearing. Alright name something else. Name something you'd like to be. Like a scientist. Or a lawyer or something."
"I couldn't be a scientist. I'm no good in Science."
"Well, a lawyer - like Daddy and all."
"Lawyers are all right, I guess - but it doesn't appeal to me," I said. "I mean they're are all right if they go around saving innocent fuys' lives all the time, and like that, but you don't do that kind of stuff if you're a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge, and buy cars and drink martinis and look like a hot-shot. And besides. Even if you did go around saving guys's lives and all, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys' lives or you did it because what you really wanted to do was to be a terrific lawyer, with everybody slapping you on the back and congratulating you in court when the goddam trial was over, the reporters and everybody, the way it is in the dirty movies? How would you know you weren't being a phoney? The trouble is, you wouldn't."
I'm not too sure Old Phoebe knew what the hell I was talking about. I mean she's only a little child and all. But she was listening, at least. If somebody at least listens, it's not too bad.
"Daddy's going to kill you. He's going to kill you," she said.
I wasn't listening, though. I was thinking about something else - something crazy. "You know what I'd like to be?" I said. "You know what I'd like to be? I mean if I had my goddam choice?"
"What? Stop swearing".
"You know that song ...'if a body catch a body comin' through the rye'? I'd like -"
"It's 'if a body MEET a body coming through the rye'! " Old Phoebe said "It's a poem. By Rpbert Burns."
"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns"
She was right, though. It is 'if a body meet a body coming through the rye'. I didn't know it then, though.
"I thought it was 'if a body catch a body' ", I said."Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the ede of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're goingI have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all.I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy".
I'd love to meet a 16-year-old boy or girl who'd like to be a catcher in the rye or something like that. But more and more of them just want to be "veline" (Italians know!They are sort of not very good, half-naked, female dancers on prime time TV in the evening) or rich footballers. Fortunately, I know lots of teenagers, since I teach them English, and they're not all that bad. Then, I go on reading them this page from Salinger's novel ... Who knows? Maybe few of them might choose to be ... catchers in the rye ... We might need them in this careless world.