Today marks the anniversary of the publication of J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, a novel that introduced us to the most beloved/hated embodiment of disaffected youth in all of literature — and quite possibly pop culture as a whole. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up ten things that Holden Caulfield hates. We could have taken the easy way out and just said all of humanity, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining. And besides, nothing makes you feel more grateful about the fact that you’re not a self-destructive, angst-ridden teenager (anymore) than reminding yourself exactly why Holden Caulfield loathes Jesus’ Disciples.
“He was one of those guys that think they’re being a pansy if they don’t break around forty of your fingers when they shake hands with you. God, I hate that stuff.”
Can’t you just picture Holden at a frat party? Sitting on a couch by himself and judging how phony all those guys at the beer pong table are?
“I mean most girls are so dumb and all. After you neck them for a while, you can really watch them losing their brains. You take a girl when she really gets passionate, she just hasn’t any brains.”
OK, so maybe Holden Caulfield doesn’t hate women. Maybe he just hates “stupid girls.” Does that make him a male chauvinist, or is this just one more symptom of being a confused, emotionally inept jerk?
“You never saw so many phonies in all your life, everybody smoking their ears off and talking about the play so that everybody could hear and know how sharp they were.”
Predictable, we know. But no Holden Caulfield hate list would be complete without it.
“I like Jesus and all, but I don’t care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting Him down. I like almost anybody in the Bible better than the Disciples.”
No elaboration necessary?
“If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.”
Thinks actors are phony, ergo he hates movies.
6. Growing Up
“Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that’s impossible, but it’s too bad anyway.”
Under all that angst, anger, and self-imposed alienation is just a naïve teenager who wants to save kids from the phoniness of the adult world.
“Everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques. The guys that are on the basketball team stick together, the Catholics stick together, the goddam intellectuals stick together, the guys that play bridge stick together. Even the guys that belong to the goddam Book-of-the-Month club stick together.”
The original loner.
8. His Childhood
“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
Because no confused, introspective youth is interesting without a messed-up childhood.
9. Abrupt Endings
“I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.”
Truly sentimental at heart, Holden hates not getting closure.
10. Being Bougie
“Everything I had was bourgeois as hell…. At first he only used to be kidding when he called my stuff bourgeois, and I didn’t give a damn — it was sort of funny, in fact. Then, after a while, you could tell he wasn’t kidding any more.
Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.”
Like any privileged rebel, Holden resents the fact that he comes from a bougie background. He feels that money, like religion, creates social barriers and cliques.