Published on November 30th, 2012 | by Staff 12-130
The Holden Caulfield Complex
News Mag EIC
I highly doubt that I’m the only teenager ever to have uttered “I hate everyone/the world/my life” in a moment of stress and exasperation. Yet, I have found myself saying extremely cynical things as of late. And it’s not just me. Maybe it’s stress, hormones, or simply our generation, but Vikings are overwhelmingly angry cynics. Murmuring about our twelve-page tragedy paper, calculus test, parents and friends, we trudge from class to class.
This dark outlook on life, people and the long futures ahead of us is reminiscent of a certain classic literary antihero. Love him or hate him, Holden Caulfield of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” seems to be the archetypal teenager right now. With his red hunting hat and cigarette dangling from his blue lips, Holden wanders through New York City after being expelled from a myriad of elite boarding schools filled with ‘phonies.’ He complains and complains about everything. Holden is very unlikable, as he is paranoid, petty and seems to be the embodyment of “first world problems.” Yet, there is something about him that has drawn generations of young adults to his tale. Perhaps it is his absolute lack of recognition that we connect with. Maybe it is his anger at a world of fake people not worth his time. No matter the case, Holden Caulfield is a polarizing figure who most students meet in their sophomore English class at Samo. Perhaps the most famous young-adult novel, this unorthodox coming of age story speaks volumes about our generation and this current phenomenon of cynicism that I have titled “The Holden Caulfield Complex.”
I am not going to try to tell you to be over the moon about every detail in your lives. However, we must realize that the world is both a beautiful and awful place… there are two aspects. Plus, if we are this bitter when we are this young, how cynical are we going to get as we grow older? Teenagers should be “young and wild and free”… we should not be captivated by this cynical attitude that seems to be sweeping campus. It is fine to feel negative emotions but they should not be the end-all-be-all.
I love Holden and I love complaining and I love Elliott Smith lyrics, but we should all try to smile more.