An excerpt from “Holden Caulfield’s #Metoo Narrative in ‘The Catcher in the Rye’”:
Lately, I have been training to become an English Language Arts teacher. Along the way, I’ve been perusing classic literary texts taught in high school, which brought me to The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I re-read it, hoping to find a way to connect the text to issues that are ripe in today’s media.
I’ll admit, I struggled with the beloved story and its protagonist. Part of me wanted to brush it off as mid-century and male, and therefore obsolete. Throughout the exposition, the privileged-white-male-boarding-school-student-narrator’s only problem appears to be his disinterest in school, and his cynicism towards “phonies.” The language is outdated, there seems to be an oozing preoccupation with masculine cis-gender roles in the text, and the derogatory view of women held by many of the characters make the text difficult to teach without lots of bracketing and contextualizing. I’ve been struggling to find a way to interpret The Catcher in the Rye as a future English teacher who hopes to empower my students who identify as female. A possible solution dawned on me when I realized Holden Caulfield may be searching for a way out of the environment of toxic masculinity. I feel his narrative calls for a #metoo reading.