My condolences to the families, friends and acquaintances of children lost in the Connecticut school shooting today.
I'm wondering if anyone besides me thinks of Holden Caulfield when there's a school shooting like this. My mind automatically goes to that final scene, with Phoebe going round and round on the carousel and Holden "damn near bawling."
Each one of those kids killed in Connecticut was a delicate, vulnerable human being. As were the adults. In The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger was saying that we should be aware and protective not just of children but of all mankind. He finished the book after returning from war: Utah Beach at Normandy, The Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of a concentration camp and working in military intelligence, where he interrogated battle-scarred and wounded enemy soldiers. He'd been hospitalized from "battle fatigue," militaryspeak of the period for a nervous collapse.
Every year, a few teachers and students grumble that The Catcher in the Rye is outdated and irrelevant, but for most the book will remain forever a warning that we need to be vigilant not just our children from school shootings, but all of mankind, from danger of every source. We need to look out for each other. We're in this together.
Those who don't "get" the book can at least comprehend the concept of protecting children, then go from there.
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