Posts Tagged ‘S.E. Hinton’

A New Holden Caulfield

I just got done reading an article about the lack of appeal of the once famous character Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, (Thanks Brandi for the link!) and I have to say that I am in total agreement with what the teachers have to say about Salinger’s “classic” novel.  The Catcher in the Rye is required reading in many of the local high schools, and many of my students absolutely hate the book and its “whiny” hero (I think in literary circles, Holden Caulfield is considered an antihero).   Many people dismiss their complaints about the book by saying, “Kids don’t read today — that’s the problem.”  I believe that’s an argument for another post, but I have to say that while I liked The Catcher in the Rye, I too, had little in common with the disillusioned Holden Caulfield.  This is not to say that I didn’t like the book — I did.  But I never really understood the “big deal” about the work.   While Catcher was required reading in high school (I think I read the book when I was in 9th grade), many of us were busy reading the books by S.E. Hinton.  I can’t tell you how many times I read The Outsiders, and I still have the VHS movie for sentimental reasons (my mother got it for me as a birthday gift).  Even though I grew up in a factory town in rural PA, and didn’t have much in common with the gangs found in The Outsiders, I have to say that it was much easier to relate to Ponyboy Curtis than it ever was to relate to Holden Caulfield. 

With this in mind, I am wondering if there is still room in today’s world for literary heroes.  Would Harry Potter be a great literary hero?  Or the characters in the Twilight series? (That makes me shudder — but I will stop being judgemental; at least my students are reading!) Why are today’s readers seemingly more interested in fantasy worlds?  Or, is there another literary hero or heroine out there I am missing?