Scrolling Headlines:

UMass hockey fails to generate scoring chances in 3-0 loss to Notre Dame Saturday -

December 4, 2016

UMass men’s basketball shooting woes continue as the Minutemen fall 65-62 to UCF -

December 3, 2016

Despite poor shooting performance, UMass men’s basketball shows improvement on defensive end -

December 3, 2016

Notebook: Ty Flowers shines in UMass men’s basketball’s loss to UCF Saturday -

December 3, 2016

Ray Pigozzi shines in first game back for the UMass hockey team since November 4 -

December 2, 2016

UMass starts hot, finishes strong in upset win over No. 12 Notre Dame -

December 2, 2016

SGA vice president will resign at the end of the semester -

December 2, 2016

Raise the Flag protestors praise -

December 2, 2016

Dining and Housekeeping employees at Smith College seek new contract -

December 1, 2016

In response to election, immigration lawyer briefs students on potential changes -

December 1, 2016

Avinoam Patt discusses the role of displaced Jews in the creation of Israel -

December 1, 2016

UMass women’s basketball falls to Hartford, snaps three-game winning streak -

December 1, 2016

Brison Gresham makes long awaited debut for UMass men’s basketball -

December 1, 2016

UMass hockey hosts No. 12 Notre Dame in Hockey East doubleheader -

December 1, 2016

UMass men’s basketball picks up fourth straight win as it tops Wagner Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

December 1, 2016

UMass hockey gets chance to bond during trip to Belfast -

December 1, 2016

The true backbone of America -

December 1, 2016

Letter: Craig’s Place to fight against fatal budget cuts -

December 1, 2016

Enduring the 2016 Tower Run at Du Bois Library -

December 1, 2016

C.J. Anderson, Malik Hines each have career nights in UMass men’s basketball’s win over Wagner -

November 30, 2016

Farewell J.D., We Hardly Knew Ye

Until I was thirteen, I had a tendency to stutter when called upon in class. My mother claims that it had more to do with the fact that I had a minor obsession with old Jimmy Stewart films and less to do with a certain fear of public speaking, as was my teacher’s diagnosis.

Either way, my father felt that a proactive way to counteract this speech impediment would be to practice reading long passages of books aloud. So after finishing dinner early one evening at some point in eighth grade, he handed me a copy of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.” My dad asked me to go to my room and quietly read the first two pages to myself, and then to return to the living room.

Transfixed, I sat in my room for twenty minutes, reading and re-reading those first two pages. Here was a boy not much older than myself, writing from what appeared to be the confines of some mental health or behavioral correction facility.

I returned to the living room and my father asked me to begin reading the rest of the book out loud. Thus began my fascination with Holden Caulfield, a teenage anti-hero of our time and for all time – an indelible and enduring character to whom one cannot but compare one’s self.

Flash forward nine years. Salinger is dead. I don’t stutter much anymore, and I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading books out loud – to myself or anyone else. What remains is the powerful effect Salinger’s words had upon me at such a young age, and the clear and obvious fact that Caulfield is the flawed barometer for teenage dysfunction and a prism through which intellects, both young and old, might learn something true and real about the hopes and fears we all experience on the cusp of adulthood.

What have you learned? To what standards are you held by your teachers, parents and peers? How do you feel towards a majority of those individuals with whom you surround yourself? Do you know what you want out of life? Even if you knew the answers to these questions, could you articulate them? Could you find the words? Well, Salinger did.

Many of you will graduate this spring – if all goes according to plan, I will too. I haven’t yet formulated a personal bucket list of collegiate experiences that must be accomplished by early May, but with Salinger’s passing and with our own progression towards full-blown adulthood and its myriad of responsibilities, I am certain of one thing.

That is, before I’m handed my diploma, I will read Salinger’s book one more time, and you should too. Fifty-nine years after delivering a lightning bolt directly into the core of American identity, his characters remain perfectly flawed, his language remains perfectly cool and his insights (intended or not) bear equal if not more relevance to our identity than ever before.

Upon its publication in 1951, “The Catcher in the Rye” was the object of both adulation and disgust. The stream of profanity and frequent description of sexual angst and experience made the book an easy target for social conservatives. Literary academics lauded the book’s blend of disaffection, loneliness, impulse and the shortsightedness of youth. As students teetering on the precipice of graduation and its real world implications, subject matter of this ilk should be required college reading.

Some may scoff and dismiss such a suggestion. I’ve never read it, but I’ve made it this far and I can smell graduation from here, so why bother myself now? Certain stories can become redundant with each subsequent reading. Certain films lose their luster, and magazines rarely receive a second glance after the initial once-over. This tale, on the other hand, is one for the history books – a rite of passage, of sorts.

If you haven’t read it, you’ve deprived yourself of a genuine treat coupled with more than just one valuable life lesson. I read that in the tenth grade, why should I re-read it? Well, for many reasons. You were younger then, and having experienced a successful graduation from high school (one of Caulfield’s repeated and numerous failings), several years of college and the struggle to maintain sanity and vitality in the face of the wild and unforgiving world of young adulthood, Salinger’s writing will undoubtedly contain new and deeper meaning.

So for Christ sake, before all you phonies graduate, get a hold of some crumby old copy, hole yourself up in your goddam bedroom, and read Salinger’s masterpiece. It’ll change your life.     

Charlie Felder is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at cfelder@student.umass.edu.

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