‘A Sense of Smallness’ – My link between New York and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

Catcher in the Rye / Poetry Blog.

Write a paragraph in the style of J.D. Salinger – and using Salinger’s style of narrator – describe a location in New York that gave you a new understanding of the novel. Briefly say what this new understanding is.

A new understanding from this novel can be found. For me it was a sense of smallness in this world. We often get caught up in our own world, everything begins and ends with us. I try to be cautious and aware of this and try to put others before myself and try to see the world through the eyes of another. It was when I was in New York, after reading Salinger’s novel, Catcher in the Rye, that I really considered my smallness and even insignificance in the wider existence. There is over eight million people in New York and I am just one person, amongst everything else.

I walked into the square and a sense of calm came over me. I don’t know why. There were sounds likened to that of gunshots, and the hard beating of a flock of pigeons flying overhead, yet I liked it, I really did. I barely even heard the faintest sounds of military soldiers marching down the square, or the screams of the buried souls resting beneath my feet. I feel bloody lonely here, maybe I would be less lonely if I joined them, if only I could travel back in time. I wish there was someone close to me to share it with, if only I could call Emma, my sister, or maybe Tom. I don’t know, maybe one of them would have had a drink with me at the White Oak Tavern that night. I would have bought him a whiskey and watched as the golden liquid slips past his rosy lips. Or I could have gone dancing and sipped on gin martinis, twirling the night away as jazz music filled the air, legs bending and bodies weaving. The thought alone brought a smile to my face. I wonder if they were here, would they join me?

My freezing hands snap me back to reality. I left my gloves back at my hotel across town. I hastily shove them in my pockets and walk towards a bare tree. Much like the mystery of the square bringing me peace, I also am unsure as to why this skeletal tree called to me. Maybe because it too has been stripped naked, forced to stand in the harsh elements and bare itself to those around it. I feel sorry for this tree, I really do. Just when I thought I couldn’t feel worse about this tree and the life its lives, I see a family of squirrels bounding down it. I stood there staring at them, watching them and thinking of the life they have lead. Are they cold in this winter weather or are they made to withstand it? I don’t think I was. Were they kind squirrels? I found it impossible to decipher.

This brought upon me an understanding that every living thing has a story, humans, animals, plants, and all. The square made me more conscious of this, it stirred something in me, evoking a feeling of immense smallness in this world. It made me think that everyone had the potential to be a phoney, we have the choice of who we are and how we present ourselves. But who are we? What are we searching for? Something real? Something we can grasp hold of and love, and be loved? Or is the purpose of life the quest to find authenticity in all of the phoney’s and craziness? It is confusing and disheartening sometimes, it really is, it almost goddamn depressed me.

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