The Morality of Reading The Catcher in the Rye in School
The story of The Catcher In The Rye, can and is misinterpreted by many
people. It is very easy to find The Catcher In The Rye immoral if you
are reading the book only to prove that idea. This is so because you
can ignore the good things and ideas the author is trying to convey by
using certain incidents that might be labeled wrong. On the other
hand, if you are reading the book and taking that extra step to
analyze the things that Holden Caulfield does and the things that
happens to him you end up having a greater appreciation for the novel
and what it says.
Throughout the book Holden has shown that he is a boy who in reality
has a conscience and uses it. One example of this is when Holden goes
to see Mr. Spencer, his former history teacher. Holden goes to visit
Mr. Spencer, who is ill with the grippe. He goes to tell him not to
feel bad for failing him in history. Holden did not have to do this;
this was an act of courtesy because he knew that Mr. Spencer felt
sorry that he had flunked Holden in his class. Holden also sits
through Mr. Spencer’s lecture on how life is a game, a game that one
must play according to the rules. Holden who absolutely hates talks
like this, did not have to sit through it, he could have gotten up and
left, but he didn’t he showed respect for one of his superiors and
what he had to say. I believe this is an act that every child and
adult should know and do.
“I am the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life.” (16)
Holden Caulfield is a good liar. Holden even admits to it. Many
people might say that this is setting a bad example but throughout
story his lies make people feel better. For example, when Holden was
on the train to New York a lady came on and sat next to him. This
lady happened to be the mother of a kid that was in Holden’s class.
His name was Ernest Morrow. Holden tells us that he thinks Ernest is
“the biggest bastard that ever went to Penecy”. However, he started
telling Mrs. Morrow how Ernest was one of the most popular boys at
Penecy, how funny he was, and how everyone wanted Ernie to be class
president, but Ernie wouldn’t let anyone nominate him. Holden had no
obligation to rave about Ernest. He could have told Mrs. Morrow the
truth about how her son acts, and what people think about him.
Instead he sheltered her from the truth, and helped her to stop
stressing and worrying about how her Ernest was doing socially with
the other boys.
Another incident in the book that could easily be misapprehended is