Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hello, dahlings - and welcome back to the Chick Lit Kitchen after another (semi-long) hiatus!

I would first like to apologize for constantly delaying and delaying the start of this series - you'd be surprised at the amount of work a 30 Day Challenge entails and at the number of challenges life throws at you along the way! So, unfortunately, the challenge is beginning a little late; sorry to those of you who might be disappointed in me. I hope you'll all forgive me in true Audrey fashion as we embark together on our very first 30 Day Challenge together! 

Consider today's challenge as a warm-up for the days and days of Audrey style, lifestyle, and love that are yet to come. Today, all I'm asking you to do is spend 10-15 minutes journaling your goals. Some topics you might want to think about include: 

  • Why are you starting this 30 Day Challenge? What do you want to gain or learn along the way?
  • What is it about Audrey Hepburn, or another icon you'd like to emulate, that most inspires you? 
  • What three qualities of Audrey's would you most like to have and why? How do you think this challenge will help you get there?
  • How do you envision yourself changing over the course of this 30 Day Challenge?
After you've written that all down, set a one-minute timer and simply close your eyes. Visualize, as best as you can, the life and goals you want to create for yourself. Picture yourself thirty days from now: what do you look like, speak like, act like? Now open your eyes and think: how will this challenge help you achieve those goals? Be sure to keep the image of the Future You in mind throughout this 30 Day Challenge as you learn style, grace, and self-love through the wise words of Audrey Hepburn! 

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second challenge in our 30 Day Series and be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter, as some of the challenges will be available exclusively on those platforms. If you want to share your goals with me via any of these sites, please use the hashtag #LiveLikeAudrey! Until then, au revoir, mis amis, and good luck - I look forward to spending the next 30 days with you primping, living, and loving like a Hepburn! 

XOXO, Haley

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hello, darlings - and welcome back from my brief hiatus! It's occurred to me we haven't seen each other since last Saturday's quiz (comment below if you enjoyed it + want more quizzes here at the Chick Lit Kitchen!), so I thought I'd pop in and make a brief post before the weekend rolls around.

Today I'm going to share with you my most recent style cravings, a little concept I'm calling Garden Party Goddess: it's equal parts Daisy Buchanan (we've just finished reading the Great Gatsby - post-worthy or no? Comment and let me know!), Audrey Hepburn, and 1950s housewife, a la Bryce Dallas Howard in the Help...oh, and speaking of which, check out these epic costume sketches!

But, let's get back to Audrey for a moment...the moment you've all been waiting for, in fact! A few of my more loyal readers may remember the Thirty Day Challenge I've been promising for weeks now, and tonight is the night! Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce the arrival of the ever-so-exciting Thirty Day Live Like Audrey Challenge, coming to you every day for thirty days beginning Friday, March 20th. Live Like Audrey was, of course, inspired by my idol, the late great Audrey Hepburn - but also by the books What Would Audrey Do? by Pamela Keogh and the Little Pink Book of Elegance

Beginning next Friday, you'll receive a daily challenge designed to help you exude the grace, class, and kindheartedness for which Audrey Hepburn was so famous. The challenges will come in three categories - Look, Live, & Love - so you'll get ten from each over the course of our thirty days together! Some of the challenges will appear here on the blog per usual, but others will be exclusively found on my Twitter and Instagram accounts, so be sure to follow me to get your full dosage of Audrey.

Live Like Audrey isn't about trying to be Audrey Hepburn, or even to emulate her, really - after all, that wouldn't be very Audrey of us, now would it? Audrey never would have tried to be anyone but herself. Rather, what this challenge is about is returning to the times of Jackie and Marilyn, acting like a (modern!) lady in the 21st century.

If you have ever felt like...
  • A time-traveling 1950s housewife
  • A displaced Frenchwoman
  • Or an Audrey in a Katherine world
Then Live Like Audrey is certainly right for you!

So, start following the hashtag #LiveLikeAudrey on Instagram and Twitter (and be sure to share your challenges along the way!). Now, without further ado...

How to Be a Garden Party Goddess:
Sip tea in white gloves ~ Visit used bookstores in your fanciest dress ~ Always say please and thank you ~ Write love letters on embossed note cards ~ Wrap your lingerie in tissue paper ~ Pair oversized sunglasses with teacup Keds ~ Accessorize simply, preferably with Tiffany ~ Wear eau de toilette, not body spray ~ When in doubt, choose pearls ~ Travel with hatboxes and hard luggage ~ Tie a silk scarf to the handle of your tote bag ~ Greet people by kissing them on both cheeks ~ Lounge around the house in your pink satin kimono, nothing else ~ Practice skin care religiously ~ Eat bonbons and truffles filled with caramel and raspberry creme ~ Never forget where you came from, or your smile

Until Sassy Saturday, mis amis!  XOXO, Haley

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hello, hello - welcome back to the Chick Lit Kitchen!

Sorry for my chronic inactivity lately; I'm swamped with school, but I promise that I'll try to keep up with the blog as best as possible! Today, of course, is Saturday - and you all know what that means!

...wait for it....

SASSY SATURDAY! Yes, ma'am, it's Sassy Saturday again on the blog, and today it's bringing you an equally-as-sassy quiz designed to match you with a rockin' read this spring break. After all, what else are you supposed to do with all that free time? Sleep? Travel? Party? NAH!

Here at the CLK, we live for chick lit (and the snacks that go with it!). This quiz is specially designed to help you find your spring break sweetheart - so what are you waiting for? The love of your literary life is waiting for you below! JUST CLICK THE BUTTON ALREADY!!!

Powered by Interact

Well, darlings, I hope you loved that quiz as much as I loved making it! We have some fun features coming up on the Chick Lit Kitchen, including my TBD 30 Day Challenge (by now, it must be killing you!) and my March favorites headed to you next Sunday!

Until then, au revoir, mis amis - stay sassy, stay classy, and have a phenomenal rest of your Saturday.

XOXO, Haley

Monday, March 2, 2015

Greetings, lit geeks - and welcome to...wait for it....


I don't know who's more excited: you or me! And as much as I want to get straight into today's topic - a miniature biography of Salinger and a mild psychoanalysis of his affinity for women half his age (yep, you read that right!), all in the context of Catcher -  I promised over Twitter yesterday that a full explanation would be provided. So, without further ado...

THAT is what I did yesterday! For a girl who's deathly afraid of heights, that's pretty impressive, isn't it? It's a high-adventure course inside the Jordan's Furniture in Reading, and it was completely and utterly awesome, for lack of a more Salingerian word. At first, I've gotta admit: I was being a total pole-hugger and I was scared to walk on anything that didn't have hand ropes. Once I got used to being 12 feet up in the air, though, and kinda got my "air legs," it was actually really fun! 

So, that's why I didn't write yesterday. Jealous? Disappointed? Hoping my answer would be something more like "Orca Attack" or "Field Trip to Hogwarts"? Yeah, me too. Well, the truth is always somewhat boring, isn't it? For real life, I've gotta say: yesterday was probably about as good as it gets! 

Now, for the real reason you're here (unless you just saw my tweet and really, really wanted to know what happened. In which case, that's cool, too - welcome!): J.D. Salinger, Joyce Maynard, and Holden Caulfield, with guest appearances from Ernest Hemingway and Nabokov's Lolita

As always, a few brief disclaimers: firstly, I don't own Catcher in the Rye. Obviously, though that would be pretty cool. Secondly, I aim to please, not to plagiarize, so please do e-mail me at chicklitkitchen@gmail.com if anything about my work seems a little fishy, so I can update my citations! Last but not least, I wouldn't plagiarize you, so please don't plagiarize me! A citation in MLA format is available at the bottom of the article for your convenience...so USE IT!!! I mean, come on guys; I've literally handed it to you.

Whew, that was a lot. Let me stop and breathe first....

Okay, I'm good. Ready, set, CATCHER! Cue the bittersweet, histrionic intro music. 

WARNING: This post contains spoilers!

Jerome David Salinger was born in New York on January 1, 1919 to a fairly normal childhood. The only major disturbance in his early years was – gasp! – finding out that his mother was actually a closeted Catholic (he grew up believing he was 100% Jewish, like his father). (the Daily Mail)

It was not childhood that corrupted Salinger’s innocence – “popped his cherry,” so to speak – as adolescence and adulthood. First, it was his doomed love affair with Oona O’Neil in 1941: the 16-year-old girl he once wished to marry eventually ran away to wed Charlie Chaplin (the Daily Mail). And then, of course, there was the Second World War: the reason Salinger’s relationship ended in the first place, and the reason for all of the emotional and psychological turmoil that haunted him – and Holden – ever since (New York Magazine).  

We learned in class that J.D. Salinger saw more combat than perhaps any other classic American writer. While Ernest Hemingway and Tim O’Brien were as cozy as one could be stationed in WWII and Vietnam respectively, Salinger fought on the front lines, stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, and liberated Nazi prisoners first-hand. Salinger touted the first pages of Catcher in the Rye through much of the combat (Vanity Fair).

With the harsh realities of war branded onto his brain, it’s unsurprising that both Salinger and Holden aimed to become “Catchers in the Rye”: preservationists of innocence; protectors and shields from the stark evils of the adult world. Salinger knew even more so than Holden what predators lay in wait for kids who grew up too fast – the draft, for one. War. Death.

It’s no wonder, then, that Salinger developed severe depression. On May 8, 1945, as the rest of the Western world was celebrating the end of the Second World War, Salinger sat on his bed, staring at a pistol, contemplating suicide. Fortunately, the literary genius was smart enough, diligent enough, and humble enough to seek help. Like Holden, Salinger checked himself into a mental hospital, where he passed time sassing the staff, writing letters to his good friend Hemingway (whom he met in Paris during the war), and generally trying to save face, for he feared the implications of his psychological turmoil on the reception of Catcher in the Rye. (During the 1940s, the stigma surrounding mental illness was considerable.) (Vanity Fair)

Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye was published on July 16, 1951 by Little, Brown – a Boston company, might I point out! Catcher was also banned almost immediately, for its “shocking” use of the f-bomb and candid sexual dialogue, among other matters we high schoolers today would probably consider trivial. (Vanity Fair)

No doubt in relation to his history of mental illness, fame didn’t sit well with Salinger, and so he essentially became a recluse, holing himself up in his house like a hermit in a way that – or so I am convinced – all writers must do at least once (Dead Caulfields). While he did publish later works such as Franny and Zooey, such works were simply republications of. After his death, three short stories of his have been leaked on the internet – none of which I have read; all of which I am sure live up to his high standards of quality narration and intricately-crafted characters. 

Ironically, Salinger himself ended up becoming one of the adult dangers that parents and “Catchers” might try to keep children from. As I touched upon briefly in my first post, Holden & Sexuality, J.D. Salinger was a bit of a creep. He had a fascination with innocence that translated appropriately into his writing and inappropriately into his sex life. He preyed on young girls long into his late life by luring them to his home through letters.

One of his conquests – benignly (and inaccurately) referred to as “muses” by most online sources - claimed that he broke up with her just after taking her virginity: all-too earnest testimony of Salinger’s obsession with the pure, the untouched. The director of the movie “Salinger”, Shane Salerno, perfectly explains how Salinger’s PTSD-driven pursuit of innocence manifested itself in his sex life: the girls he sought “[replicated] a pre-war innocence for him…[he] used very young girls as time travel machines back to before various wounds.” (the Wrap). A second theory attributes Salinger’s sexual insecurities to his lack of a second testicle, but I think I’d rather believe the first one, so I can take at least a little pity on the poor man (Salon).

Most famously, Salinger pursued the eighteen-year-old writer Joyce Maynard after reading her article in the New York Times, “An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” (the Daily Mail). He was so moved by her piece (and by her pixie-like appearance in those photographs, no doubt) that he wrote her a fan letter cautioning her against the dangers of fame (New York Magazine). They exchanged about 25 letters before, in a spectacle straight from a whirlwind Hollywood drama, Maynard forsook her second year at Yale to move in with Salinger, who would trample her heart years later by crushing her dreams of having a family and essentially kicking her out (New York Magazine).

Maynard is frequently referred to as Salinger’s “Lolita,” which lends a curious and inappropriate (I think) shade of literary artistry to their relationship. Their sexual relationship was at first stagnant, later almost nonexistent; its foundation was oral sex, both because Maynard had a condition that made penetrative sex painful and because Salinger feared having more children (he wed his wife Claire, who was sixteen years his junior, in 1955 – he forced her into isolation when she became pregnant, and she gave birth to a daughter, Margaret, and a son, Matthew) (the Daily Mail).

The women in Salinger’s life described him as “sexually manipulative,” “pathologically self-centered,” and “abusive” – yet many former “muses” also describe their relationships with Salinger as weirdly nonsexual, up to a point (New York Times). He was, apparently, also an early New Age philosopher, obsessed with homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, dieting, Zen Buddhism, and Scientology (ibid). If he hadn’t died more than five years ago, Salinger probably would have fit right in with the all-natural health fads sweeping the nation today – I imagine that he and a young Beyonce might have e-mailed over green juices and spin classes. Or would Queen Bey have been too much of a feminist for him? Hmm…

With all the effed-up things he was doing (and that had been done to him), Salinger was understandably desperate to protect his privacy. To be completely fair, the world had been cruel to him – and so he knew it would only continue to become crueler. The one time he let his guard down was in 1953, when he agreed to let a group of local teenagers interview him for what he thought was a small school newspaper. When the article was published as a large feature editorial, Salinger felt so betrayed that he built a six-foot fence around his property and never spoke to the press again. Not only was Salinger privy to his privacy, but apparently he also had tremendous capabilities for holding a grudge. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/books/29salinger.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)
In his not-so-fine late years, Salinger was known to wield shotguns at strangers on his porch and sue authors for writing his biography (New York Magazine). He died at 91 - bitter, alone, and in no physical pain - in January of 2010 (New York Times).

Today, people are still arguing incessantly, uselessly about whether or not Joyce Maynard was the exploiter or the exploited, when I think we all know the answer to that one (New York Magazine). If you’ve read John Green’s the Fault in Our Stars, you probably won’t be surprised to find that J.D. Salinger makes me feel a little bit like Hazel Grace felt about Peter van Houten. Like van Houten, Salinger was “a good writer but a shitty person.” Although I will never be able to simply “forgive” Salinger for his pedophilic victimization of teenage girls, it breaks my heart to wonder why he did it. Was it a result of his wartime trauma? His long history of mental illness? Or was his lifetime of seclusion simply becoming too much? Was J.D. Salinger lonely?

No matter what way you swing it, the fact of what Salinger did remains the same: he nearly committed suicide. He checked himself into a mental institution. He threatened the press. And he harassed girls a quarter of his age. As much as we all want to romanticize our literary idols, the fact of the matter is that had Salinger not been so tormented, so distraught by the shattered pictures of innocence he saw in the world around him, the Catcher in the Rye probably would have been a thin, flimsy piece of mass-marketed literature hardly worthy of sitting on the shelf next to Fitzgerald.

They say it takes one to know one: Salinger was Holden Caulfield. He couldn’t accept that he would never become a “catcher in the rye” and so he tried to vicariously recapture his youth through his pint-sized lovers. Through writing the character of Holden, Salinger inadvertently became Holden: a man desperate to hold onto his innocence even after he knew it was gone – a man who could not let go of his juvenile fixations. Two boys defeated by death, conquered by loss, and shattered by mental illness. Two boys who felt strongly that “you should never tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” If that doesn’t explain Salinger’s self-imposed exile, I don’t know what would.

Well, that's it for me and Holden, Holden and me - or Holden & I, I should say. It was fun while it lasted, 99.9% of the time (the other 1% I spent procrastinating on giant ropes courses and swearing at Salinger under my breath). Welp.

Stay tuned here on the Chick Lit Kitchen for my next big event, coming real soon...my brand-new 30 -Day Challenge! Eek! Whatever could it be about? My lips are sealed. I've locked them and thrown away the key...so you'll just have to keep checking back to find out >:) mwahahaha! How else do you think I'd keep you coming back for more? Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Oh, I'm only teasing - it's been a long day! You know you love me, deep down inside.

XOXO, Haley

To cite this post (in MLA format): 

The Chick Lit Kitchen. Holden & I, Part III: Holden & Salinger. Blogspot, 2 Mar. 2015. Web. Date you accessed this post.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hello, my loves - and welcome back to the Chick Lit Kitchen! Can you believe it's the last day of February already?! 

I know what you're all thinking, of course: it feels like it's been forever since my last post (since last Sunday's Holden & Feminism treatise, to be exact), but things have gotten busy with school and...well, just life in general. You know how it is. I hope ya'll can forgive me my blogging sins - and that you're looking forward to the LAST EVER INSTALLMENT of the Holden & I series, Holden & Salinger, coming tomorrow, Sunday, March 1!

Anyhoo, today's Sassy Saturday post is probably entirely cliche and exactly what you all expected, but I'm a white female under the age of 30, so you knew it was coming: Oh my Oscars! 

Now, I didn't even watch the Academy Awards - although I heard I missed a pretty ballin' performance from Anna Kendrick, and I couldn't be more psyched for Eddie Redmayne's win for the Theory of Everything - but of course I had to log on the night after and gawk at all the haute couture. So, in honor of my favorite Oscars looks, I'll be using this Sassy Saturday to bombard you with fashion porn. Enjoy, and stay sassy!

The 87th Annual Academy Awards Yearbook

Best Dressed
Source: Us Weekly

Source: Us Weekly

Hands-down, Zoe Saldana is my pick for Best Dressed 2015. From her effortless awards to after-party transformation, to the versatility of her hair (that deconstructed fishtailthough!), both her architectural Atelier Versace showstopper and her black tie Prabal Gurung gown stole my heart. And probably her wallet.

Best Back

Source: Ok! Magazine

Now, beware of bias here, as I worship the ground Anna Kendrick dresses on and absorb each of her witty tweets as gospel - but I adored Anna Kendrick's Thakoon dress almost as much backwards as I did forwards. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.

Most Likely to Shop Vintage
Source: Lainey Gossip

Source: Lainey Gossip

Emma Stone's fashion choices are always impeccable, but I happened to think her Oscars ensembles this year were especially chic. Her after-party look was straight out of the roaring 20s and her golden gown reminded me of the Great Gatsby - which was precisely what I loved about them! Please do note her sweet hairdo, which I would like to copy and nail immediately. 

Best Maternity Style
Source: Ok! Magazine

Keira Knightley is actually glowing - and to help matters along, she looks like Venus straight out of a Boticelli painting. J'adore the text detail on her flowy Valentino gown, her golden makeup, and her Blair Waldorf-esque waves (complete with the signature headband - although I doubt the resemblance was intentional...).

Best Neckline
Source: E! Online

Jennifer Lopez is, well, Jennifer Lopez. Nobody does what J-Lo does quite like J-Lo - and I don't think anyone could have pulled off that plunging Chanel v-neck but the maven herself.  Not only do I envy her cleavage, but I also, of course, envy her gown all that much more: she looks like a sparkling Cinderella! The prom queen would pale in comparison.

Cutest (and Best Dressed!) Couple
Source: My Old Sport

Source: Toovia

Source: About Style

Chris Pratt is flawless. Anna Faris is flawless. Naturally, they belong together. Together, clad in Tom Ford and Zuhair Murad respectively, they were the fiercest and funniest couple on the red carpet! (And, just for the record, Anna was also a strong contender for Best Hair...)

Most Likely to Become Queen

Meryl Streep is the Beyonce of her generation: she can do no wrong. Meryl slays everything she's in - and the Oscars was, of course, no exception. The Huffington Post said it better than I could: Meryl was "a walking masterpiece" in her sophisticated dress-and-blazer duo. 

Smartest Girl on the Red Carpet
Source: Lainey Gossip

Now, I love everything Chloe Moretz has ever worn - and I do mean ever - but let's put all fashion aside for the time being and talk about practicality for a moment: her dress has pockets. POCKETS, I TELL YOU!! I guarantee that everybody else on the red carpet was probably standing there, 110% jealous, wondering how the heck they let a teenager outsmart them. And Chloe Moretz probably just smiled, waved, and stuck her hands in her pockets like the total bad@$$ she is. 

The New Girl in Town ( aka everybody's Girl Crush)
Source: POPSugar

Source: Mirror UK

Before 50 Shades of Gray hit theaters, scarcely anybody even knew who Dakota Johnson was - but at the Oscars, she was a scarlet beacon in a sea of pale pastels. I love her bangs, I love the shoulder details and sexy slit of her Yves Saint Laurent dress (the sheer fact that it's YSL basically cemented her into my fashion Bible), and I love the fact that she took her mother, Melanie Griffith, as her date to the Oscars like a total sweetheart. And honestly, guys - can we just shut up about their fight already? I'll make one concession: if you've never gotten into a fight with your mom before, then you can talk....

*crickets chirp*

 I think I've made my point.

Most Dapper 

Eddie Redmayne, as a former model, is just one of those men whose every move is somehow wholly irresistible - and, adorably so, he clearly has no idea. If I could only get my boyfriend to wear Alexander McQueen, I would be golden. I'm so happy for his Best Actor win as Stephen Hawking in the Theory of Everything, but even more so, I can't wait to see him broaden minds as a transgender woman in the Danish Girl, a movie about the world's first recipient of sex-reassignment surgery, Lili Elbe.

Most Inspirational Icon

Reese Witherspoon is one of my idols, which can't possibly come as a surprise to any of you - I mean, she played Elle Woods, so how could she not be?! Actually, it wasn't until I read her Glamour cover story in January 2015 that Witherspoon truly captured my heart. At the Oscars, I was inspired by her clean-and-classic silhouette, the sparkly touch of her sparingly-added jewelry, and her nude makeup, as well as her strength and fearlessness on the red carpet. 

Most Showstopping
Source: Got Celeb

Source: OK! Magazine

Amy Adams, who skipped the Oscars ceremony and went straight to the after-party, was a hot competitor for the title of "Smartest Girl on the Red Carpet" - but I just had to give her Old Hollywood glamour some special recognition with her own title as Most Showstopping. Her Atelier Versace gown and Marilyn-inspired beauty almost-literally took my breath away. Oh, and as a side note: I can't wait to see her in the movie Big Eyes!

Best Hair
Source: Ace Showbiz

Okay, so I adored the edgy Bohemian vibe of Jaime King's Oscars look anyways, but let's just dedicate a few moments to her hair. Her shiny, voluminous tresses make me want to cut bangs again - and trust me, I hated my bangs. Nobody let me do it! NOBODY!!!

And, last but not least, here's Miranda Kerr just being Miranda Kerr...

Source: the New Daily

Source: Saw First

Second runner-up for Best Back, no buts about it - and I love her Old Hollywood Glamour vibe, too! That fabulous orangey-red lipstick gets me every time; Miranda Kerr has got to be the most tasteful VS Angel I've ever seen. And, of course, kudos to her for being one of the highest paid models in the world, writing two self-help books, pioneering her own line of organic skincare, and designing her own line of tea china, which I will probably be lusting after for months now that I know it exists (whew, can I breathe now?!). Let's celebrate Kerr's beauty and her brains!

As always, thanks for reading the Chick Lit Kitchen - and stay tuned for the final installment of Holden & I, coming tomorrow, March 1st!

XOXO, Haley

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Part II: Holden & Feminism

Welcome back, my fellow Holden-ites! I hope you've got your red hunting hats at the ready, because we're going to get right into the second installment of the Holden & I series, Holden & Feminism. In it, I'll be briefly analyzing Salinger's female characters and Holden's relationship to them, in order to further answer the pressing question I touched upon in my last post: is Holden a feminist?

But, per usual, a brief disclaimer first: I didn't write the Catcher in the Rye (oh, if only!) and I don't own any of these characters. I've tried to cite my sources as best as possible, but if you catch something that appears copied, please e-mail me at chicklitkitchen@gmail.com so I can update my citations! Finally, an MLA citation is provided for your convenience at the bottom of this page...please use it! Plagiarism is the Devil of all English classes, and trust me, you will get caught.

In my first installment of the Holden & I series, Holden & Sexuality, I argued that Holden Caulfield was, to some degree, a feminist, because of his noble crusade against date rape. Although I still stand by my word, in true Holden-esque fashion, I’m also going to become a major hypocrite. This post is dedicated to the women in the Catcher in the Rye – in other words, to why Holden Caulfield is decidedly not a feminist.

Salinger was not a fan of the strong female character; the closest we come to a heroine in this book is the precocious Phoebe, but because she’s technically a child, I don’t count her. There is no dearth of prominent women in the Catcher in the Rye: there’s Sunny, there’s Sally, and, of course, there’s Jane. But of these three principal female characters, none of them defies traditional beliefs about women, and none of them is particularly independent. Jane, for one, is portrayed as extremely vulnerable – and although we can assume that her creepy child molester of a relative is responsible, it does not change the fact that Salinger’s portrayal of her is weak.

In my opinion, the strongest female character in the book is Sunny, the prostitute. She wields considerable control over her sexuality and does not hesitate to stand up for herself when she believes she has been paid less than what she is due. However, Sunny is a prostitute, a position that is both inherently sexual and inherently shameful; this diminishes the significance of her comfortable sexuality. Not to mention, when she sticks up to Holden, she has to drag a man along with her - the piggish Maurice. Although she is the most independent of Salinger’s characters in the Catcher in the Rye, she is still far from it – and although Salinger writes plenty of female characters into the story, the men of Catcher dominate and prevail.

To be fair, the 1950s were not a good era for the feminist movement in general. During WWII, women had held jobs outside the home to compensate for the absences of their husbands. They had become the primary and often sole providers for their entire families. But when their husbands returned from war, bruised, bloody, and high on victory, they were not eager to accept this change. Women were typically fired from the jobs they had held during the war, in favor of the returning male workforce. Reversion was complete and sudden, and those women who protested were targeted with staunch advertisement from the federal government. With the spike in nationalism after the war, these women never would have risked facing the shame of keeping their jobs when the government was telling them it was their patriotic duty to stay home and take care of their husbands. The growing popularity of the suburban lifestyle only helped to further ingrain the role of women as queens of domesticity, as it entwined both familial and social life in a way it never had before: female life encompassed not just chasing the children, but also entertaining house guests at cocktail parties and brunches. (Vanessa Martins Lamb)

Despite the overall helplessness of the females in Holden’s life, Salinger’s view of women through Holden’s eyes is still somewhat positive considering the circumstances of the era. Generally speaking, Holden likes girls more than boys, and is more sympathetic toward women than toward men. When he encounters Ernst Morrow’s mother on the train to New York, his description of her reveals that he is more tolerant of some of her quirks than he might have if she were a man. For example, when Mrs. Morrow leaves her bag in the middle of the aisle, Holden cites this as a reason why he “just likes [women]”. However, if a guy like Ackley or Stradlater had acted similarly in this situation, Holden probably would have responded critically, considering his slander of Ackley’s and Stradlater’s array of habits. Holden takes pity on Mrs. Morrow, deliberately acting like what he would call a “phony” to spare her feelings about her son’s true character. Although Holden seems to take on a kinder, less defensive air toward women, his behavior also shows that he might be less honest with them.

Holden assumes that the women and girls he meets are less intelligent than him, but differently than he does with men. Holden feels himself above the guys at school because he acts in a more “civilized” manner than them. However, around girls, he is deliberately deceitful, yet he snickers at these women for believing him. On page 57, Holden says “mothers aren’t too sharp” because Mrs. Morrow so readily absorbed the false information he fed her about her son, but rather than acknowledge that he has taken advantage of her, he blames this on her intelligence, as if she should have known better. The same angle of portrayal is taken with the three girls Holden meets at the Lavender Room. Holden takes advantage of the girls’ obsession with movie stars (an interest he considers inferior, due to his abhorrence of the “phoniness” of Hollywood) and tricks them into believing that one appeared at the bar, for his own sheer amusement; then he blames the girls for being “dopes.”

The especially strange part is that Holden actually prefers spending time with less intelligent women to women who he might consider his equal (although, considering his exorbitantly high standards, is there really anyone whom Holden would consider his “equal?”). On page 73, he describes the intoxicating air of girls who are merely pretty faces, explaining how regardless of what qualities are underneath, he can fall in love with a girl almost instantly. Hypocritically, this could make Holden naive and a bit of a romantic, while also attesting to the fact that he is, duh, a teenage boy. On pages 70-71, he says that dancing with a smart girl is not as fun as dancing with an air head, because “half the time she’s trying to lead you around the dance floor.” This suggests that Holden has a bit of an inferiority complex about his intelligence; like many boys of old, he would find it embarrassing to date someone smarter than him. Compared to his attitudes about women and sex, Holden’s view of a woman’s intelligence is decidedly traditional – and decidedly misogynistic.  

The only exception to the rule of intelligence is Holden’s little sister, Phoebe. Holden idealizes Phoebe, constantly describing her with the word “pretty” and characterizing her as “smart.” He also overlooks her interest in the movies, the object of Holden’s deepest hatred. Holden idealized his brother similarly, so I think the reason why he loves and idolizes Phoebe so much has more to do with Phoebe’s similarities to Allie than with the fact that she is a girl. But, he clearly likes Phoebe - a child and a girl - a lot more than most of the guys his own age, and far more than most of the adults he meets on his adventure, attesting not only to his preference for women but to his desperation to retain his innocence.

Even though Salinger’s female characters are far from self-actualized, I still have hope for Holden as a feminist. His respect for female sexuality, particularly his respectful treatment of Jane, plant the preliminary grains of feminism in the reader's brain. Were he born in a different place and time – say, thirty years later - he might have blossomed into a fully-fledged feminist.

It is also worth noting that Holden attends an all-boys’ school, so he has been surrounded by the popular societal opinion of women as sexual objects his entire high school career. Because that is what he has been taught, it is only natural that Holden display shows clear signs of masculine bias. The fact that his brain contains even a seed of feminism is remarkably radical for both the era and for Holden’s situation.

Like Holden’s provocative preoccupation with sex, Holden and Salinger’s treatment of female characters can and should be used to spark dialogue in classrooms and at home. Treating the Catcher in the Rye as a "boys' book" that all girls are simply destined to hate is just as misogynistic as Holden's objectification of Sally's twitchy lil' butt. Believe it or not, girls can - and will - identify with a male narrator, despite his bias against their sex. To catalyze the process, Stephanie Polukis’ Teaching J.D. Salinger’s ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ from Multiple Critical Perspectives features the brilliant idea of asking students to rewrite a scene in the book from a female character’s perspective. Holden’s first-person narration is critical to establishing the voice and tone of the Catcher in the Rye, yes, but it also colors the story with Holden’s – and Salinger’s – male-oriented lens, one that can obstruct a female student's ability to relate with Holden's concerns. 

 As illustrated by the backlash to the feminist movement even today, it is remarkably difficult to combat the bigoted attitudes we have grown up with our whole lives – even if our mind knows we are acting wrongly, the heart can be more difficult to convince (read more about changing your heart and mind in my post "Old Habits Die Hard"...I even quoted Frozen!). However, it is also vitally important to change both hearts and minds in order to achieve true change.  In J.D. Salinger’s the Catcher in the Rye, protagonist Holden Caulfield may not have been a feminist – but he was certainly no misogynist. During the 1950s, when traditional beliefs about women prevailed, this baby-step forward, although tiny, was a notable step nonetheless. 

Can you believe that after this post, there's only one more left in my Holden & I series? Eek! Stay tuned next Sunday for the third and final edition of Holden & I, Holden & Salinger...and once the series is over, keep checking back for a special announcement of my new 30-Day Challenge! Whatever could it be? (Hint: it has nothing to do with caffeine, despite what I wrote in my "Old Habits Die Hard" post!)

Anyways, thank you all, my lovely lit geeks, for reading - and have a beautiful, magical Sunday afternoon! As for me, today is my last day on vacation, so I'll just be sulking about the house all day trying to make the most of what little time I've got left (and, okay, rushing to meet those homework deadlines...#truelife). I challenge all of you to live your last day of the weekend to the fullest, and send love and sparkles to all of you!

XOXO, Haley

To Cite This Article (in MLA format):
The Chick Lit Kitchen. Holden & I, Part II: Holden & Feminism. Blogspot, 22 Feb. 2015. Web. Date you accessed this post.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Hello, darlings!

Happy Saturday! Today, February 21, is a very special day for someone near and dear to my heart (and to said person, don't act like you didn't know this was coming)...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MIKE!!!!! That's right, my boyfriend's becoming an old man. So in honor of his sweet 19th, I'm dedicating today's Sassy Saturday post to him. Love you, sweetie!

I apologize to those of you who just barfed - if the relationship thing just isn't your thing, then this post is probably not for you. For those of you who are brave - maybe you're in a committed long-distance relationship or have a friend who lives in a far off land - read onward to see how I'm celebrating my boyfriend's birthday from miles away!

Celebrating birthdays is one of my favorite pastimes.The cooking, the planning, the DIY projects...there's nothing I don't love about parties. But when you're dating a college student who lives far away from you, the party game can be a difficult one to play. So, since I couldn't be there myself, I sent my boyfriend a DIY Birthday-in-a-Box so we could still celebrate!

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the actual birthday box I sent him - I was in a bit of a rush to get it in the mail - but what I can offer you is the how-to and a little birthday box inspiration from around the web. So, without further ado, here is my advice for crafting and sending the perfect DIY Birthday-in-a-Box! Have a Sassy Saturday, everybody :)

Recipe for a Birthday-in-a-Box

The Perfect Box...
Source: C&D Recycling

Make sure it's big enough for all your birthday goodies - and sturdy enough to survive the mail! The box I used had a tuck top, which was perfect because it allowed me to mount a Happy Birthday message on the back so it would be the first thing he'd see when he opened it. For a little more pizzaz, Paper Mart sells colored versions here.

The Proper Trimmings...

I lined my Birthday-in-a-Box with confetti-printed tissue paper and scattered some acrylic gems (leftover from my brother's pirate birthday party all those years ago!) across the bottom for a little personality. Make sure to keep your audience in mind: I really, really wanted to use confetti, but since my boyfriend's in a dorm, I knew he'd hate to clean it up. Also, I love glitter - I do, I promise! - but be careful not to glitterbomb your boyfriend, unless you want to continually find sparkles behind his ears for a year. IT. GETS. EVERYWHERE!

The Cutest Card...

I absolutely love the DIY design above - wish I could have thought of something so sweet! Instead, I chose to mount a "Happy Birthday Mike!" sign on the inside of the top flap of the cardboard box, so he'd get my birthday message as soon as he opened it. 

Source: Oh Happy Day

Another idea could be to include a Happy Birthday banner in your box, or to even use your box as a birthday card - the one above is a little effeminate for a boyfriend, but I love the idea just the same! Switch up the colors and it could be simply perfect for your LDR lover. Click here for the tutorial.

A Sweet Treat...
Source: Target

If you're pressed on time or simply too lazy to bake, most grocery stores sell mini birthday cakes or, like Target, single-serve cupcakes. This  cream-cheese filled red velvet cupcake from Target looks so tasty, doesn't it?Too bad it's Lent - no red velvet for me! Ugh, I miss chocolate...and, speaking of chocolate, Target also sells a chocolate one of these cupcakes, which is what I sent to Mike for his birthday (surprise!). You really can't go wrong with Target!

A Birthday Tradition...
Source: Newsworks

What am I talking about? Candles, of course!  Again, keep your audience in mind (and your mind in your head - safety is, of course, a huge issue with candles!): remember that lighters are considered hazardous materials, and that most college dorms won't allow candles, lit or unlit (which is why I didn't send any to Mike). But, if you can swing it, nobody's birthday is complete without a birthday wish - candles are, indeed, the ultimate birthday tradition! 

Source: Catbird

Or, for a cute alternative to candles, Catbird and other sites sell floating wish papers (again, be wary - these require matches to grant wishes) that you can use to create your own birthday tradition with your loved one! Girlfriends beware: Catbird's are sold only in pink.

...and Some Birthday Goodies!

Sources (clockwise from top left): CatbirdHappy ThoughtLast Night of FreedomBake at 350

Birthdays call for excess, from streamers to cake to balloons. What else is there to do but to shower your sweetie with gifts 'n' love? Pack your box full of miscellaneous treats, edible and nonedible. Deflated balloons, party poppers, mini pinatas, trading cards, candy, party favors, noisemakers, you name it! Anything goes on a birthday, just as anything goes in love. (And, of course, don't forget the birthday present!) 

More Inspiration for Your Birthday-in-a-Box....

I love the artful arrangement and bright primary colors of this Birthday-in-a-Box by Clever Cupcakes! 

Shannon Eileen from Happiness Is posted this adorable Birthday Party in a Box on her blog - and I can't get enough! The printables are adorable, I love the color scheme, and it's not too cutesy, so it's perfect for a guy, while still being pretty and polished. Overall: not a gift I'd mind receiving! 

Source: Oh Party

 Melanie Blodgett of You are My Fave is responsible for both of these crafty birthday boxes. Long story short, I will be pinning her, following her, and adoring her until the end of time. Major Birthday-in-a-Box envy!

This box from Smashed Peas and Carrots is Grandma-themed, but no matter: I still think it's the shiz! I used the exact same mini pinata in Mike's box - I filled mine with birthday cake M&Ms. 

Source: Sheridan Anne

Last but not least, we have this delightful birthday box from Sheridan Anne! I was especially drawn to the bunting she created using a die-cutter - so clever, so cute. 

As always, my darlings, thank you for reading my blog! To my fellow long distance lovers: I salute you for knowing that proximity does not trump quality and for sticking by your man no matter what. As for the birthday boy, who I know will be reading this sooner or later: have an awesome, magical nineteenth year! I hope we can spend it and all the rest together. Have a super Sassy Saturday, party like it's your birthday, and tune in tomorrow for the second installment of my Holden & I series, Holden & Feminism. Until then, my loves! 

XOXO, Haley