Holden Caulfield was an angsty teen before James Dean and rock and roll made alientaed youth an icon. "There's really not the sense of teen culture that there is now," says the producer of "Gossip Girl." NPR takes the measure of Holden, J.D. Salinger, and the 1951 classic The Catcher in the Rye.
For teen readers of the novel, "it's subversive and you've got someone on your side who can spell the whole war out," says bestselling author Tobias Wolff. As the adolescent reader assumes an adult view, Holden's rebellion comes to signify his sadness and his fear of change. "He's afraid of growing up really," said Wolff.