There’s a reason that Catcher in the Rye, published 70 years ago, has become such an iconic book, praised and condemned in equal measure. It is because it is about lying, phoniness, acting, Hollywood, theater, plagiarism, and at its core, a society of liars. Actors in a masquerade willing to don masks and face other faces with the veiled glances of the defeated. It is about the massive social confusion that entered American life in an intense way following World War II, a world of propaganda and performance. Although the book seems to be directed at adolescents, it is for adults, and while annoying many of them with its adolescent lingo, it cuts to the heart of our current life-the-movie society. Adults have become kids, and Holden Caulfield knew that they would. Or were. Maybe he wanted it. We now live in a society of costumed children, asking to be tricked. “If you want to know the truth,” Holden keeps repeating, knowing that most people don’t, since they prefer the Show. It is also a fall book with echoes of falling leaves in a dying land.
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