It’s that time of year again. We did long chapters on phrases and clauses from Warriner’s, and we only have two weeks before finals. It’s a good time for a high-interest short novel. It’s a good time for The Catcher in the Rye. I introduced the novel today, of course telling my students about Mark David Chapman and John Hinckley, Jr. I also told them about the oddy reclusive author. The students complained. I can’t read a whole book in two weeks! I hate reading! I don’t want to read a book. There isn’t even a summary on the back of this book. Why is the cover so plain? You’re killing us, Mrs. Huff. I said, Calm down! Give this one a chance. You’ll like it; just wait.
I always like to start any book by reading aloud, so I cleared my throat and read, “The Catcher in the Rye… Chapter One… If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
As I continued reading I looked around the room. One by one, I could see J.D. Salinger winning them over. Each nose stuck firmly in this plain book with its unobtrusive cover, eyes scanning the page as I read aloud. Utter quiet. No one surreptitiously checking the clock. At the end of the period, I closed the book and asked the students to finish chapter two. I could be wrong, but it sure looked to me as though not one of them noticed the end of the period had come.
I love teaching this book. Thanks, Mr. Salinger.