As someone who despite logic, still worries deeply what other people think – I find myself very drawn to characters who just don’t give a single fuck. Here are a few big beautiful loudmouths from literature who knew what they were about.
Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye, 1958)
‘it was the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall. The Saxon Hall was supposed to be a very big deal around Pencey. It was the last game of the year, and you were supposed to commit suicide or something if old Pencey didn’t win’
When this book first came out, a lot of critics interpreted Holden Caulfield’s character as disturbed. Maybe this says something about me, but I don’t think that’s entirely fair. Personally, I think this grey haired sixteen year old is a realistic embodiment of being young and thinking – yeah I’m pretty fucking smart and everyone else is an idiot.
Golden lines such as ‘almost every time someone gives me a present, it ends up making me sad’ or ‘I’m not too crazy about sick people anyway’; remind me for example, of my favourite comment to come out of my then 14 year old cousin’s mouth – ‘I hate having to tell old people that their food sucks’.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, in The Catcher in the Rye Holden has just found out that he is being kicked out of another school. He decides to leave early before his parents have been notified, go to New York for a few days, then head home after his parents have had ‘the opportunity to thoroughly digest the news’.
I loved this book and I really wish I had read it while I was still in High School (cause it wouldn’t have hurt me to be ever so slightly, less of a goody-goody). A few of the reasons Holden’s on this list include
- having pride in his lying ability – ‘I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life’
- Yelling ‘sleep tight ya morons!’ through the hall of his dorm in the middle of the night, as he left
- His overall life philosophy against ‘phonies’
Ignatius J. Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces, 1980)
‘Talc you have been found guilty of misleading and perverting the young. I decree that you be hung by your underdeveloped testicles until dead. Zorro’
I noticed that like Holden Caulfield, Ignatius also wears a hunting cap! I’ve reached the only logical conclusion that hunting caps have eerie powers, and fashioning one increases your brain’s wise-ass cells.
Anyway, if you’re a Masters student like me, reading A Confederacy of Dunces might make you a wee bit self conscious – like, oh dear god!!!! do I ever sound like that when I choose to use a fancier word?
Ignatius J. Reilly is a highly educated yet unemployable thirty year old who lives with his mother in New Orleans, and is quite deluded regarding how important he actually is. Interestingly, he perfectly fits TLC’s definition of a scrub given he also can’t drive.
He is excessively sensitive; with his ‘heart-valve’ issue, and his refusal to let go of an incident where he got motion sickness on a bus (describing it as as one of ‘the traumas that have created my worldview’). However his sense of shame is dead.
Notable moments in the novel where I was in awe of Ignatius’ ability to not give a fuck include
- His attempt to initiate a militant style coup the at Levy Pants factory
- Getting into a fight while working as a hotdog vendor, in his pirate costume
- Refusing to mark any of the student essays while he worked as a professor
Captain Yossarian (Catch 22, 1955)
[on inkblots] ‘you can save yourself the trouble doctor everything reminds me of sex’
Set during World War II; Yossarian is a pilot who has completed the set amount of missions, and doesn’t want to lose his life to the war anymore. Throughout Catch 22 Yossarian attempts to be classified as insane so that he can be sent home, this is a struggle however due to Catch 22 which specifies that ‘a concern for ones own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.’
Yossarian’s ability to cause trouble for the higher authorities means, that for Colonel Cathcart, the ‘very sight of his name made him shudder’. Moments where he was a massive pain in the ass include
- Falling in love at first sight with a woman he’d never spoken to, and inadvertently initiating a ‘moaning epidemic’ during a briefing.
- Boycotting wearing his uniform after a dying man bled all over him, and accepting his heroism award naked.
- Coming up with dynamite questions in the educational sessions such as ‘who is Spain?’ ‘why is Hitler?’
I also love when he has to share his tent with youths, how he does NOT appreciate the nickname ‘yo yo’