Published in 1951, Catcher has long been a literary touchstone for alienated high school students. Main character Holden Caulfield is the ultimate whiner — everyone’s a phony, everyone’s a crumbum, and the only person who is really worth a damn is his little sister. Because Catcher is a fairly glum tale about a screwup of a kid who may be going crazy following the death of his brother, it’s really easy to forget that it’s kind of the ultimate high school fantasy — Holden roams around New York City for a couple of days, gets into bars, dances with older women and gets beaten up while trying to procure a lady of ill repute. While it may seem like the boy is just drifting, that sounds like living! For those very reasons, though, many of today’s teens are having trouble relating to the book, according to a June 2009 New York Times article. “I can’t really feel bad for this rich kid with a weekend free in New York City,” said one teacher, paraphrasing some of her students. But despite the generational gap, this book won’t be leaving classrooms anytime soon.
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