Finally, though, I got undressed and got in bed. I felt like praying or something, when I was in bed, but I couldn’t do it. I can’t always pray when I feel like it. In the first place, I’m sort of an atheist. I like Jesus and all, but I don’t care too much for most of the other stuff in the Bible. Take the Disciples, for instance. They annoy the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth. They were all right after Jesus was dead and all, but while He was alive, they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting Him down. I like almost anybody in the Bible better than the Disciples. If you want to know the truth, the guy I like best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times as much as the Disciples, that poor bastard. I used to get in quite a few arguments about it, when I was at Whooton School, with this boy that lived down the corridor, Arthur Childs. Old Childs was a Quaker and all, and he read the Bible all the time. He was a very nice kid, and I liked him, but I could never see eye to eye with him on a lot of stuff in the Bible, especially the Disciples. He kept telling me if I didn’t like the Disciples, then I didn’t like Jesus and all. He said that because Jesus picked the Disciples, you were supposed to like them. I said I knew He picked them, but that He picked them at random. I said he didn’t have time to go around analyzing everybody. I said I wasn’t blaming Jesus or anything. It wasn’t His fault that He didn’t have any time. I remember I asked Old Childs if he thought Judas, the one that betrayed Jesus and all, went to Hell after he committed suicide. Childs said certainly. That’s exactly where I disagreed with him. I said I’d bet a thousand bucks that Jesus never sent old Judas to Hell. I still would, too, if I had a thousand bucks. I think any one of the Disciples would’ve sent him to Hell and all–and fast, too–but I’ll bet anything Jesus didn’t do it. Old Childs said the trouble with me was that I didn’t go to church or anything. He was right about that, in a way. I don’t. In the first place, my parents are different religions, and all the children in our family are atheists. If you want to know the truth, I can’t even stand ministers. The ones they’ve had at every school I’ve gone to, they all have these Holy Joe voices when they start giving their sermons. God, I hate that. I don’t see why the hell they can’t talk in their natural voice. They sound so phony when they talk.
–The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
That’s Holden Caulfield speaking his heart out, 17 years old, who dropped out of school three times.
If ever me and Holden get to meet one day, I will tell him that he has a good point there about Judas. To be really honest, I thought, too, that Judas went straight to Hell. I thought, too, that Judas lost that hold on redemption when he killed himself. You know, after listening to Holden, I think Judas got his redemption when he became aware of his mistake before he hanged himself. He was repentant and full of anguish. His pain was probably unbearable that he killed himself. Thanks Holden for that wonderful insight.
The Catcher in the Rye, according to my research, is a prescribed reading in some high schools and universities. (In the schools I went to this wasn’t a prescribed reading so it’s an honor to have read this now.) I read also that this book became controversial during its release in 1951 because of its “vulgarity.” Because it talks about teenage angst, drugs, sex, identity crisis, and homosexuality. But as a reader, I don’t see anything vulgar about the book. I am guessing that those people who lived in 1951, who reacted negatively about this book were to me–to use Holden’s words–“just a bunch of phonies.” Because you know what, I’d rather read this very honest book than talk to an insincere person.
J.D. Salinger gained instant fame after writing The Catcher in the Rye. He got offers to turn this book into a movie but Salinger, in reply, wrote this:
J.D. Salinger died in 2010. The interest of some movie producers to adapt this into a movie is still strong. No longer around to guard his book, I think movie producers should strictly comply with the author’s wish and leave this book alone.