Part of why we educate children is to aculturate them. Our collective narrative is shaped in school. Consider the ritual reading of the Cather in the Rye. Everyone my age has read it.
Okay, I admit it. I loved the book. But I began to notice that the rising generation of high schoolers thought very little of Holden Caufield. A few years back, I judged an essay contest where I was surprised to learn that J.D. Salinger’s hero was a “whiner” and a “pathetic loser.”
Maybe this explains why the Onion’s cheeky obituary for J.D. Salinger keeps buzzing around the digisphere a week after Salinger’s death. Written in Holden Caulfield’s voice, I can’t resist quoting it here:
“In this big dramatic production that didn’t do anyone any good (and was pretty embarrassing, really, if you think about it), thousands upon thousands of phonies across the country mourned the death of author J.D. Salinger, who was 91 years old for crying out loud….”
The question I have is this: who will replace Holden Caulfield as that voice of America’s angsty youth? Or am I a phony for thinking it matters anymore, for chrissake?
Photo of J.D. Salinger courtesy of BeastandBean, Flickr