Tuesday, 8 December 2009

On this day...

John Lennon was assassinated by an obsessive fan in 1980. The Beatle, who enjoyed 17 number ones as a group member, and further success as a solo artist, was shot four times in front of his New York apartment. Yet the case involves a strong literary link. Lennon's assassin, Mark Chapman is associated with Salinger's 'The Catcher in Rye', almost as much as he is with his victim. Chapman's last few weeks before the shooting mirror that of the protagonist Holden; a lonely pre-Christmas rambling through the street of New York, a prostitue in a green dress and even talks with strangers on Central Park's ducks. A similar crisis of identity and purpose are often put forth as explanations for the shooting, Chapman himself stating, 'The phony must die says The Catcher in the Rye'. After he had committed the murder Chapman calmly sat down, reading the novel, to wait for the police. So synonymous is Chapman with the book, that months after, he was handing out signed copies from a stack kept in his cell. Once again it becomes debatable whether 'The Catcher in the Rye' is an accurate representation of teenage life, or merely the ramblings of a lunatic.


  1. I think that just shows how much of an impact literature and books in general can have on people. A slightly disturbing interpretation of 'The Catcher in the Rye' though...

  2. Yeah, it's pretty scary. A similar thing happened in the late '60s with Charles Manson murdering several people because of some Beatle's lyrics, ironically. I think 'The Catcher in the Rye' is a tad disturbing - can't really confess to being a fan of it - and Salinger is quite odd...

  3. Oh
    It stalks me wherever I go!!!

  4. I know. It's terrifying, we will never be able to escape it :-(