OneJ.D. Salinger is considered one of the most critically reviewed author in modern literature. In particular his only novel Catcher in the Rye has received the most criticism.
The book has been constantly debate and sometimes banned in some states because of its vulgar language and sexual content. On the other hand it is used in freshmen English and praised as the greatest book in the twentieth century. Catcher in the Rye has been reviewed in many aspects. People had drawn many conclusions in trying to decipher the meaning of Catcher in the Rye and the mind behind the mysterious Salinger. Buddhism is one apparent aspect in this book and it is also apparent in Salingers life. Does Salinger exhibit Buddhism on different levels in Catcher in the Rye?
The main character in the book is Holden Caulfield. He attends a rich prep school called Prency prep. It is a school that typifies the idealistic American school, where the dirt and grind does not have a space, at least not on the surface. Holden is then expelled from the school, and starts to venture out the world on his own. He goes back down to New York, the dirt and grind capital of the world. He gets more and more sickened by the fakeness, and cruelty of the world. An example of this would be in the Catcher in the Rye, when he goes in to the museum he notices an obscenity written with a childs red crayon on the wall(121 bloom). Holden says in the novel Thats the whole trouble, he realizes. You cant ever find a place thats nice and peaceful, because there isnt any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when youre not looking, somebodyll sneak up and write Fuck you right under your nose(264 Salinger). He throws up because of the whole idea and from that point he then begins to understands the real meaning of life and learns to accept life as life. Holdens life is a mirror image of the life of Siddharta Gotama the price of Nepal in 563 B.C. The story of the Prince is the prince lived in his kingdom where he was shielded from suffering. He never saw the dead, the dying, the suffering, the hungry. He knew none such existed. Until one day he had ventured out of the kingdom and saw the things he had been shielded from. From that day on he searched for the answer of why these things existed. When he realized the answer he became Buddha (the enlightened one). Holden and Gotama lived very similar lives. Although Holden did not have the startling revelation Gotama had Holden was indeed enlightened. Holden is not a tragedy that some people say but instead he was enlightened. Holden has made in moving toward authenticity and understanding the essential question that is behind every good novel: What is the nature of reality?