Rebel in the Rye

Jerome David Salinger probably owns one of the saddest stories ever told.

He grew up besides the father who never believed that his son is going to become a writer. The father insisted that David should quit dreaming and get a real job which will bring him money.

You might think it’s nothing new; the parents are always sceptical when their children decide to go for a career which can’t guarantee a linear income.

Nothing could’ve stopped Salinger from writing; not even going to war, a broken heart, and especially not the father who expected him to become ‘the king of bacon’.

Some chapters from The Catcher in the Rye, the only novel published by Salinger, were written in the military camps in England, in Normandy, in various battlefields across France, death camps in Germany and in a hospital in which Salinger stayed to cure traumas caused by war, which weren’t never cured.

Salinger claimed that writing and Holden Caulfield, the main character of The Catcher in the Rye, helped him to survive the toughest moments in the war.

He was an extraordinarily talented writer whose talent was discovered by Whit Burnett, then a professor at Columbia University and an editor of The Story magazine.

Salinger and Holden had a lot in common; he was hiding himself behind the sarcasm which caused him a lot of trouble in school and while dealing with other authorities.

One of the greatest defeats Salinger had was the moment when he found out, while reading the newspapers at the front, that his girlfriend, Oona O’Neill, left him and married Charlie Chaplin. 

Perhaps because the Hollywood star stole the love of his life or because of something else, Salinger, as well as Holden, hated movies and Hollywood.

The Catcher in the Rye, one of the most influential and beloved novels of the 20th century, never get Salinger’s permission to become a movie although many famous directors – Elia Kazan, among others – wished to film it. The millions of fans were let down and have never seen a movie about Holden Caulfield. 

Salinger despised both his and Holden’s popularity. After his fans tormented him on each step, he moved to an estate in New Hampshire where he lived in solitude.

He died in 2010, on that same estate and he never gave interviews and he never published a single book again. He wrote them for himself and his writing he found his religion and peace; he didn’t care about other people’s opinions and whether someone will read his work. 

For us, who would love to read these works, there is little to do except to wait the year 2085 when all his work will become public domain and when they will finally be published.

In 2017, a movie, Rebel in the Rye, was published and I believe, just like many others, that Salinger would have a lot to say on that account and he wouldn’t be pleasant.

Ironically, Whit Burnett was played by Kevin Spacey, who was accused of sexual crime and, just like many others, is not welcomed in Hollywood which Salinger hated so much.

Although Salinger wouldn’t approve and although Kevin Spacey has a role in it, the film is made and published and it should be seen.

Writers, just as those who don’t write, can learn a lot from that movie; how to persevere in your intentions, how to cherish you talent, how to learn from those who know more, but also how to stay consistent and truthful to your art and your voice.