This is still one of my favorite quotes from “Catcher in the Rye”. It is also the book’s most iconic.
“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” ― J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
I’ve read Catcher in the Rye between four and five times. It was the book that made me fall in love with the “Youthful Discontent” genre. Others in my list include: Trainspotting, Hamlet, The Bell Jar, The Sun Also Rises, quite a few John Green books (including “Looking for Alaska”), Norwegian Wood, and a bunch of other books I’m probably forgetting at this moment. What do these books have in common? A loner protagonist disgusted by the world as it stands, a kind of heroes journey through this world, an internal search for moral clarity, and often — but not always — a tragic end.
I feel as if “The Little Prince” should also be in this category. If you haven’t read the “The Little Prince” then I highly recommend you add it to your list of books to read.
As for my own thoughts on the “Youthful Discontent” sub-genre, I wrote a long essay about Youth and its Discontents that I’m still rather proud of.
If you’d like to have a read. Please check it out here: