July 17, 2014
Our prof in English V- 20th Century Texts had us read Catcher in the Rye and write a paper afterwards. Here’s mine– A Letter to Holden Caulfield on Change.
This must freak you out, receiving a letter from a stranger and all. I actually don’t feel like you’re a stranger to me though. I have heard of you, your adolescent dilemmas and your life’s struggles. This makes me feel like I really know you, because whatever feelings you have is somehow the same with mine (although, I’m not a horny bastard like you. grinning).
You might be wondering why I’m even writing to you. I thought maybe you need someone to talk to, someone to share your problems with. I’m not a psychic or a nun or a wuddayacallit, I’m a troubled kid, but not as worse as you though. I’m through chewing the big chunk but not yet finished cleaning the morsels. Anyway, I just thought talking to someone would make things better for you (and somehow for me, too), but that’s not enough. You have to go back to the root and confront it.
I know Allie’s death caused you so much pain, but don’t make that as an excuse to give up on (your) life and turn away from the world. I just want you to realise that you’re not alone in this world. You have Phoebe, D.B, your mom and dad. You have people like Mr. Antolini and old Spencer whose concern for you is overwhelming. All you need is to reach out. It is hard, I know. The only way you can start believing in yourself is having faith on the one Being who created you.
The one significant element that can help you overcome your struggles is the belief that you have in yourself, the belief that you can make it. I’m not calling you a coward Holden, but I know that because of Allie’s tragic departure you have become afraid of change and a lot of other things too. But change, whether we want it or not, happens. It is a constant phenomenon which will forever plague our lives and would either bring forth a cry or a smile. Don’t destroy a life which is full of hope.
If you won’t straighten up, then you’ll just end up doing the same stuff you’ve been doing the past years: transferring from one school to another, from Whooton to Elkton Hills to Pencey Prep, and fail. It’s like you’re running away from something. And that something might be change. You’re afraid that it might catch up on you, so you flunk all your subjects and transfer to another school. Move to another place and make the same excuses. Excuses like “It was a stinking school” or “It was one of the worst schools I ever went to. It was full of phonies”. Well, guess what Holden, everybody’s a fake. You and I are part of a gang of humbugs occupying the planet earth. So stop acting as if you’re not, because I know I am. We’re only good at judging others, thus forgetting that we, too, (sometimes) act like them.
At times, we get so caught up in our problems that we forget to live our lives. You’ve been completely engrossed in other people’s lives that you left yours dismantled. The ironic thing, though, Holden is that you have also been consumed by your worries that you forgot about other people’s feelings. Your mind has been carried away by all this phoney stuff that you always fall short and end up circulating from one prep school to another, of which on often times becomes a source of dreadfulness for your family.
I understand you’re in that stage where all kinds of things, that you don’t have a clear understanding of, happen. Things where you’re expected to act like a grown up but you don’t. That’s okay, but the trauma of having been forced to change rapidly due to certain circumstances leaves a mark greater than that of being slapped on the face.
Allie’s death may have brought a lot of things, but it doesn’t include you failing. Maybe it happened so you could find your true self. I know it was harsh but there’s always hope after all. Remember that even if your life is full of rainy days, there is always a rainbow that will appear after the last drop of rain has fallen.
You know what, Holden? I think the weather is starting to change. The rain is not as hard as before. I’m glad that that little time you spent with Phoebe in the carousel brought some light into your eyes. Thankfully, with the help of Phoebe, you have been convinced to stay and face the consequences of flunking out of school (again). She’s one hell of a kid! I think one of the reasons why you decided to stay is because you don’t want to leave Phoebe, like when Allie left you. Out of love and concern for your sister’s well being, you stayed. It is with Phoebe that you feel at home because of your belief that children are innocent and pure unlike adults.
Aside from that, by telling your story based on a chosen period of your life means something. Why tell a story of a part of your life? Why not the whole sixteen or seventeen years you have lived? Why? From the way I understand things, you only shared a significant part of your past because it led to your transformation. The reformation of character and being is usually one of the most crucial stages of our lives. Those events and the people involved stands as a foundation of the start of your improvement towards the end. I didn’t quite understand whether you really changed or not though. The only thing I’m sure about is that you indeed have taken a step towards change. Whether that road leads to disaster or prosperity, I do not know.
P.S. It’s alright to miss someone and it’s even better if you tell them, too.