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"we all hated Holden in my class. We just wanted to tell him, Shut up and take your Prozac'. [View All]

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Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Books: Fiction Donate to DU
lindisfarne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-22-09 12:42 AM
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An interesting article in NY Times.

The Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951, is still a staple of the high school curriculum, beloved by many teachers who read and reread it in their own youth. The trouble is todays teenagers. Teachers say young readers just dont like Holden as much as they used to. What once seemed like courageous truth-telling now strikes many of them as weird, whiny and immature.

The alienated teenager has lost much of his novelty, said Ariel Levenson, an English teacher at the Dalton School on Manhattans Upper East Side, Holdens home turf. She added that even the students who liked the book tend to find the language phony, her hands were lousy with rocks, the relentless goddams grating and dated.

Holden Caulfield is supposed to be this paradigmatic teenager we can all relate to, but we dont really speak this way or talk about these things, Ms. Levenson said, summarizing a typical response. At the public charter school where she used to teach, she said, I had a lot of students comment, I cant really feel bad for this rich kid with a weekend free in New York City.

Julie Johnson, who taught Mr. Salingers novel over three decades at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., cited similar reactions. Holdens passivity is especially galling and perplexing to many present-day students, she wrote in an e-mail message. In general, they do not have much sympathy for alienated antiheroes; they are more focused on distinguishing themselves in society as it is presently constituted than in trying to change it.
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