Thirteen Words/Phrases Holden Caulfield Uses Way Too Much
[The Catcher in the Rye]
1. phony - "If there's one word I hate it's grand. It's so phony."
2. crumby - "It's really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes."
3. damn near - "I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth."
4. lousy - "... we decided we'd take a bus into Agerstown and have a hamburger and maybe see a lousy movie."
5. goddam - "I don't even like old cars. ... I'd rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God's sake."
6. all that stuff / all that crap - "I know it's only his body and all that's in the cemetery, and his soul's in Heaven and all that crap, but I couldn't stand it anyway."
7. they/it/he/she/that kill/kills/killed me - "He said he talked to Jesus all the time. Even when he was driving in his car. That killed me."
8. if you want to know the truth - "They annoyed the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth."
9. Chrissake - "Up home we wear a hat like that to shoot deer in, for Chrissake."
10. moron(s) - " All morons hate it when you call them a moron."
11. flitty - "I wondered if just maybe I was wrong about thinking be was making a flitty pass at me."
12. or anything - "I didn't thank her or anything. I'm glad I didn't."
13. all of a sudden - "All of a sudden, I decided what I'd really do, I'd get the hell out of Pencey..."
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Day 18 of SaBloBoMo: The Catcher in the
Yeah, that's right. I'm going to do a book I don't like. Because it was just too perfect a fit to not do the book on the day I talk about it in my Thursday Thirteen.
Everyone I've talked to about how much I dislike this book has been shocked. "You didn't like The Catcher in the Rye?! How is that possible?!" Well, I'll tell you how it's possible - I hate Holden Caulfield. For those of you who don't know the book, it is basically the rambling prose of a melodramatic, self-centered, whiny, obnoxious sixteen-year-old boy named Holden. He is everything stereotypically awful about the emo teen (see the fifth definition). I want bad things to happen to him, just so he'll shut up already, stop whining, and get over himself. And it's not just about Holden. I hate reading my own diaries from when I was that age, because I was just like that. It's ANNOYING.
However, I have to teach this book to my students. And I can do that, because this book actually has a lot of good qualities, from a literature perspective. Most importantly is this: With nothing more than words on a page, J.D. Salinger has created a character so lifelike that I actually want to beat the crap out of him. For me to feel a visceral dislike of someone who is not real is quite an accomplishment. And for the multitudes of teens (and non-teens, for whatever reason) who really associate with Holden - who feel his pain - it's similarly effective. They feel a genuine connection to someone who does not exist at all, except between the covers of a novel.
That, my friends, is damn good writing.