Thursday, April 27, 2006

Shock and Awe with J.D. Salinger

One of my favorite times of the year is now, when I get to teach The Catcher in the Rye. My sophomores love it, I get to swear a lot, they don't complain about reading every night, and they actually discuss the hell out of it. What I don't love is how old it makes me feel. Here are the words I have already had to explain thus far, and we are only on Chapter 9:

David Copperfield: They think it's the magician; I have to tell them about the Dickens character.
rocks: They think Ernie Morrow's mom is a cocaine fiend rather than a diamond junkie.
give the time to: They think it's odd Holden is upset about telling someone the hour of the day;I love the look on their faces when they finally figure out it's a euphemism for sex.
falsies: They always think it's fake fingernails rather than padding for a bra.
grippe: They have absolutely no idea what this is.
traveling incognito: They have no reference for this whatsoever.

Today, we discussed the chapter wherein Holden decides to call up Faith Cavendish, the girl "who doesn't mind doing it once in a while". I started discussion by saying that Holden, after viewing the goings-on in the seedy hotel, was starting to feel horny. Suddenly, I noticed that there was a side conversation going on at my right. I turned around and said, "What's up over here?" A few of the boys looked a little sheepish. A girl near them was grinning. I waited, smiling. "What? Come on!" One of the boys piped up, "Mrs. D., it's just that...well,...when you say that word..." I was puzzled. "What word?" I asked. He reddened. I knew instantly. "HORNY? You think it sounds odd to hear me say HORNY?" He and a few other boys ducked their heads. Several students laughed.

One boy said, "I didn't think they used that word BACK THEN."


They are so young.

But it's nice to know that I can freak 'em out just by saying "horny." Wait till further on in the book. I think I'll read a few later chapters out loud, just so they can hear me say "fuck."

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