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  • Hi there, I'm John Green, this is Crash Course Literature and today we're going to continue

  • our discussion of this guy, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

  • So Holden Caulfield is often dismissed by teenagers for being a whiny little Nathaniel

  • Hawthorne, who hates his life but never does anything to change it.

  • Mr. Green, Mr. Green! All the kids in school say he resembles me

  • Ughhh, and he does me from the past. And frankly the idea that your third rate, first world

  • problems can be the subject of great literature is a bit difficult to swallow. Also how many

  • times do I have say it, no hats in class! Especially people hunting hats!

  • This is where, if you're the kind of person who thinks that books should be read with

  • their authors in mind, it becomes relevant that J.D. Salinger saw more combat in World

  • War Two than almost any other American. The great American war novels of that generation;

  • Catch 22, Slaughterhouse 5, The Naked and the Dead, were all written by men who saw

  • far less of war's horror, than J.D. Salinger did. He was on Utah Beach on D-Day. At the

  • Battle of the Bulge and he was one of the first Americans to enter a liberated concentration

  • camp. And yet Salinger returned home and wrote not about war, but about Holden Caulfield

  • bumming around New York City. So you see you can say that the stakes aren't high in this

  • novel, but as Salinger well knew the cruel and phony world of adults doesn't just treat

  • people like Holden Caulfield poorly, it kills them.

  • [Theme Music]

  • So it's easy enough, and extremely common, to conflate Holden Caulfield the character

  • with J.D. Salinger the man. The only time Salinger seriously considered an adaptation

  • of the novel, for instance, it was as a play in which he would play Holden Caulfield even

  • though by then Salinger was in his thirties. Holden Caulfield is obsessed with young women

  • and has a deeply conflicted relationship with their sexuality; J.D. Salinger dated and married

  • many women who were decades younger than him. But ultimately I don't think it's that interesting

  • to use a novel to analyze its author; however, imagine that you've just come home from a

  • horribly destructive war. You've seen combat and you've seen concentration camps and you've

  • lost innocence in a way that most of us thankfully never will. As we discussed last week, the

  • traditional line on 'Catcher' is that it's a book about clinging to innocence; you know,

  • Peter Pan refusing to grow up, Kris Jenner thinking she can be one of her daughters,

  • Donald Trump investing his fortune in the least believable wig ever. And that trying

  • to keep everything the same and everyone innocent is a fool's errand and only leads to madness.

  • And there's a lot in the text to support that - how much he loves nothing ever changing

  • at the Natural History Museum, how he prefers imagining Jane Gallagher as a terrible Checkers

  • player than as a sexual being or how he wants to be a catcher in the rye. And while Holden

  • is driven mad by this desire to preserve innocence, there's also something kind of heroic about

  • it. I mean, the catcher in the rye might be on a hopeless mission, but at least it's arguably

  • a noble one, like Gatsby's, or Romeo's. I mean, children do deserve our protection,

  • and in war and elsewhere Salinger often saw and sometimes was a victim of that phony adult

  • world that preys on the weak and the frightened.

  • And in this reading, the final scene of the book is particularly interesting. Let's go

  • to the Thought Bubble: So Holden's little sister Phoebe is riding

  • the carousel - an innocent kid activity if ever there was one - she says she's too big,

  • but Holden convinces her otherwise. He's definitely too big though, so he just watches. And as

  • the carousel spins, Phoebe, like all the other kids, keeps reaching for this gold ring; and Holden says:

  • "I was sort of afraid she'd fall off the goddamn horse, but I didn't say anything or do anything.

  • The thing with kids is, if they want to grab the gold ring, you have to let them do it,

  • and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them."

  • The ride finishes, Phoebe tries to get Holden to ride it, but he declines, and then it starts

  • raining, and she puts Holden's red hunting cap (an enchanted object if ever there was

  • one) on his head. This scene is usually read as being about innocence and change, which

  • is how we read it last week, but that red hunting cap is vital. He tells us that he

  • got the hat soon after leaving the fencing equipment on the subway - an intensely vulnerable

  • moment - and it obviously gives him confidence. He wears it, for instance, when writing the

  • essay about Allie's glove, but he's also self-conscious about it, taking off so as not to look suspicious,

  • and only putting it on when, quote: "I knew I wouldn't meet anyone that knew me." And

  • there at the end, Phoebe puts the hunting cap on him, as if to say: "this thing gives

  • you the confidence you need to keep the rain out of your eyes and go on living with some

  • semblance of integrity in the adult world? So wear it."

  • Thanks, Thought Bubble. So in short, in a very quiet and subtle way, Phoebe empathizes

  • with Holden, which is striking mostly because no one has empathized with him in the entire

  • novel. Holden can be tremendously empathetic: remember that he writes to his teacher telling

  • him not to feel bad about failing him? But from his friends to his teachers to nuns to

  • prostitutes to cabbies, Holden never feels like he's being heard. J.D. Salinger is, of

  • course, most famous for not wanting to be famous: he stopped publishing in the early

  • 1960s and lived an intensely private life. In a famous passage from 'Catcher', Holden says:

  • "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish

  • the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the

  • phone whenever you felt like it."

  • An author, in short, that empathizes with you. Just as an aside, it's never a good idea

  • to try to track down an author; even if he tweets a lot, still, don't come to his house.

  • Salinger was that kind of author for millions of people, including me. We read 'The Catcher

  • in the Rye' and feel like the book understands us in deep and improbable ways, but what Holden

  • Caulfield didn't understand and Salinger did is that a book is not its author. You may

  • wish that you could call up the author whenever you felt like it, and again - don't, but the

  • real comfort is found not in the author, but in the text. And this is where it becomes

  • relevant that there are in fact two Holdens in this story: there's the 16-year old Holden

  • the story is happening to, and the 17-year old Holden who is telling us about it.

  • The Holden the story is happening to sucks at getting people to listen to him; in fact,

  • everyone in the book, including Holden, is way too self-involved to listen to anybody.

  • Although the be fair, they're self-involved because -- oh, it's time for the open letter?

  • An open letter to the phrase "self-involved." But first let's see what's in the secret compartment today.

  • Oh, it's a carousel! Just keeps going around and around...you are extremely symbolically resonant,

  • but I've got an open letter to deliver. And this show ain't about carousels, it's about me.

  • Dear self-involved, Whose 'self' would I otherwise be involved

  • with? Let's imagine that instead of thinking about myself I spent all my time thinking

  • about some other person and what they're doing and how they feel right now, you know what

  • that's called? - CREEPERING! Unless the person is Benedict Cumberbatch, then that's called

  • Tumblr. Here's the thing, self-involved - 155,000

  • people are going to die today. If I felt the loss of all 155,000 of those people as intensely

  • as I would feel the loss of, say, Benedict Cumberbatch, then I would be Herman Melville

  • crazy. People are self-involved because if we empathized with all human beings equally

  • we would never be able to get anything done.

  • The challenge is in understanding that while you'll always be the central character in

  • your own narrative, other people matter too and empathizing with them is hugely important.

  • In short, self-involved, I don't have a problem with you exactly, but you don't have to go all fountain-head-y about it.

  • Best wishes, John Green

  • So the Holden the story is happening to can't get anyone to listen to him other than his

  • sister and a probable creeper. But a year later, he's found a way to write about his

  • story and make us care. Through things like the red hunting cap, we understand him and

  • we can listen to him. An even though his battles aren't fought on Utah Beach or in thertgen

  • Forest, we care about them. That's the miracle of language, especially effective, figurative

  • language. The hunting cap, the passive voice, the Natural History Museum, the carousel:

  • all these things are ways into Holden's experience. That's how he gets into our brains and lets

  • us see the world through his eyes. After describing Phoebe going around and around

  • on that carousel, Holden writes, "God, I wish you could have been there." But we are there!

  • When students complain about reading critically, about having to do all this "English-class-stuff",

  • that's what they're forgetting. All that English class stuff is a way into empathy; for Holden

  • and for all of us, it's a way to hear and be heard. Thanks for watching. I'll see you next week.

  • Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller, the script supervisor is Meredith

  • Danko, our associate producer is Danica Johnson, the show is written by me and our graphics

  • team is Thought Bubble.

  • Every week instead of cursing, I use the name of writers I like - or, Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • - you can suggest other writers in comments where you can also ask questions about today's

  • video that will be answered by our team of literature experts.

  • I'm just kidding, Nathaniel Hawthorne, I love you. Thanks for watching Crash Course, and

  • as we say in my home town: don't forget to be awesome.

Hi there, I'm John Green, this is Crash Course Literature and today we're going to continue

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ホールデン、JD、そして赤い帽子-ライ麦畑のキャッチャーパート2:クラッシュコース英文学#7 (Holden, JD, and the Red Cap- The Catcher in the Rye Part 2: Crash Course English Literature #7)

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    黃齡萱 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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