Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ocean Full of Bowling Balls (Nico Afonso)

If you have ever read Catcher in the Rye, then you'll know its an open ended book; almost as if it was meant to have a sequel.  Guess what, it has a sequel.  Hidden within the Princeton University Library, Ocean Full of Bowling Balls is considered the sequel to the great novel we all read in our highschool years.  Although not published, and illegal to read outside of the Princeton Library, the first page of Ocean Full of Bowling Balls was leaked, and with that a whole book could be deduced, more easily, an excerpt.  Here is a short excerpt of what could be of the sequel after the first page.
This excerpt from the short story Ocean Full of Bowling Balls gives insight to the lives of the Caulfield family, more specifically Holden and D.B. and shows how they changed drastically after Allie’s death.  According to J.D. Salinger’s unpublished work, Ocean Full of Bowling Balls...  The narrative is told through D.B.’s perspective during 1951 (4 years after The Catcher in the Rye).  During this point in time, Holden is in Korea fighting in the Korean War while D.B. has ended his tour and is in Hollywood as a screenwriter.  The story begins with D.B. thinking of Allie (mentioned as Kenneth by D.B.)  and then him reflecting on the day he died.  His death, different from The Catcher in the Rye depicts his illness as heart problem (probably due to the fact that the story depends on Allie being weak as well as susceptible to surprises) This is a continuation of the first page of the sequel to The Catcher in the Rye called Ocean Full of Bowling Balls.  Although claimed to be a sequel, this story does not follow Holden’s narrative nor is it after the events of Holden’s winter.  Many disagreements between The Catcher in the Rye and Ocean full of Bowling Balls such as Allie’s name (Kenneth), his reason of death, the time set, and the narrator led me to the conclusion that this is in fact, not a sequel.  In this reimagined excerpt from the sequel, we can see that D.B. interpreted Allie’s death as a wake up call; a message telling him that life is short and that he should grow up to be successful.  On the other hand, we see that Holden was frightened by Allie’s death which prevented him from growing up.  He thinks that the memory of Allie might be erased from his mind if he is to grow up since Allie never lost his innocence.  Because of this event, we can see that Holden frowns upon the people who mature throughout their lives and is the main cause for his displeasure towards society in the first book, The Catcher in the Rye.  An attempt to write similarly to Holden was taken due to the fact that Holden was probably influenced by D.B. (his favorite writer) therefore, D.B. writes similarly to Holden.  

Some work of J.D. Salinger was used in this excerpt as well as pieces of plot.  These include, the first page of the Ocean full of Bowling Balls (written in italics), Allie being named Kenneth, Allie dying of heart problems rather than leukemia, Holden joining the army, as well as the place of Allie’s Death.  Inferences, in order to avoid major plot holes were created such as, Holden fighting in the Korean War (why would he join the army with no conflict), Allie going to the hospital, Allie being affected by the wave, the story occurring in 1951, Holden and D.B.’s analysis on Allie’s quote, and finally, creating a flashback to tell the story.

Source on J.D. Salinger’s description of Ocean Full of Bowling Balls

Literaryartifacts. "Literaryartifacts." MIRRORHOUSE. Tumblr, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2016. <>.


Excerpt of Ocean Full of Bowling Balls

His shoes turned up.  My mother used to tell my father that he was buying Kenneth’s shoes too large for him, or to please ask somebody if his feet were deformed.  But I think his shoes turned up because he was always stopping on the grass, rolling his seventy five, or eighty pounds forward to look at things, to turn things over his fingers.  Even his moccasins turned up.  He used a southpaws first baseman’s mitt.  On the back of the fingers of the mitt he copied down lines of poetry in India Ink.  He said he liked to read it when he wasn’t at bat or when nothing special was going on in the field.  By the time he was eleven he had read all the poetry we had in the house.  He liked Blake and Keats best, and some of Coleridge very well, but I didn’t know until over a year ago - and I used to read his glove regularly, - what his last careful entry had been.  When I was still at Fort Dix a letter came from my brother Holden, who wasn’t in the Army then, saying he had been horsing around in the garage and had found Kenneth’s mitt.  Holden said that on the thumb of the mitt was one he hadn’t seen, and what was it anyway, and Holden copied down the lines.  They were Browning’s “I would hate that death bandaged my eyes and forbore, and bade me creep past.”  They weren’t such hilarious lines quoted by a kid with the severest kind of heart trouble.” (J.D S, 1947)
His death really did get to us with the day he passed engraved into our memories.  It was in our summer house back in the Hamptons.  Boy, I haven’t been there ever since then.  I guess none of us had the will to go back after what had happened- it could have been due to our respect for him; try not disturb his soul and what not.  It was the summer before I enrolled in the Army; hot summer day at the beach; the stereotypical beach day, sadly, it didn’t end up that way.  I had woken up quite late, I was a total slacker; the slacker Holden used to love me for.  It’s weird, thinking about Holden.  He is a very particular person, somewhat hates the world.  I can’t blame him, Kenneth’s death and all, it really changed the family, especially Holden.  Anyways I had gotten up with the house all to myself since my siblings were already enjoying the beach.  Kenneth would jump around the waves and float around the ocean the whole day, so it was no wonder he was so excited to see the size of the waves that day.  Even with a death sentence, Kenneth was the liveliest of all of us.  His heart conditions were very severe and none of us were sure how long it would be before he passed.  Holden, being closest to Kenneth, suffered every day thinking of how long his dearest brother would last.  Holden was entertaining himself by making a sand castle with Phoebe.  He was always the most immature, maybe something to do with him being the middle child and seeking for the attention he thought he wasn’t getting.  I thought he would never grow up, I still don’t.  Anyhow, I made my way out of the house and onto the sand.  I laid down and soaked up the sun on the white and yellow striped towel.
“Hey D.B., how about taking a dip in the water?”
“Oh hold on willya?”  I said,  “Let me soak up the sun a little more.”
“Oh come on soon you’ll be leaving us for college or work or whatever!” he shouted back.
“Fine I’m coming,” I said as I finally gave into his eagerness.
I lazily stood up from my spot and dove into the water.  Holden walked up beside me as we made our way towards Kenneth.  He was swimming in deeper into the water, trying to get the most of the waves.  “Allie, wait for us we’re coming!” Holden shouted.  Holden called Kenneth Allie for some reason.  He told me once it was because he thought Kenneth was too much of an older person name, and for some reason, he thought Allie was a good name for him.  Allie was such a original name, Holden thought it fit perfectly into Kenneth’s personality.  He was such a special brother to all of us, probably the gem of the family.  “What eleven year old writes poems, is a lefty, has red hair, and only uses green ink,” Holden would say.  As we finally caught up, an enormous wave approached us and sprawled us apart from each other.  We all shook it off and laughed as we cleared the salty water from our faces.  As we opened our eyes, we looked around for Kenneth.  A second after, we saw his frail body pop up nearer to the shore.  I treaded swiftly through the water hoping to see a sign of movement as Holden lay awestruck with terror.  I lifted him up and dragged him back to shore.  He coughed up a few cups of water and lay unconscious for a while.  He had little energy to get back up, so between Holden and I, we were able to bring him back to his room.  I saw the signs of desperation on Holden’s face.  Trying to lower his stress, I told him he would be fine and that he just needed to rest, but I was not very sure if this was true.  
Fast forward this a few hours and we were in the hospital with Kenneth hooked to wires and machines.  I guess I was too young and dumb to know what was going on but something had happened to Kenneth when the wave hit him; I think the doctors said something about stimulating the heart and giving him tachycardia.  His heart beat three-fold of a regular heart’s, and doctors weren’t sure of what to do.  We were all by his side, aside from Holden who decided to not go into the room.  From one moment to the other, his heart stopped, and that was that.  The boy whom we had known for 11 years of our lives had died.  From one moment to the other, a portion of all of us had left the earth.
From that moment on I was shown a different light on life.  Just like Kenneth’s reiteration on Browning’s, “I would hate that death bandaged my eyes and forbore, and bade me creep past,” I saw that death was always imminent; whether it was 10 minutes away or 70 years ahead.  A part of me told me this was what Kenneth seeked for in his life.  To value and make the most of it.  That night was one of the toughest for all of us; even more for Holden.  I guess he had never considered the possibility of having his young brother pass away.  That night, he broke every single window in the house with a baseball bat.  He couldn’t bare with the fact that he had just lost one of his best friends and saw emotional shelter by breaking the windows.  Holden’s life regressed after Kenneth passed away.  He interpreted Kenneth very differently than I.  He thinks Kenneth meant that because death was always a possibility, to enjoy the moments in your life that are usually taken away from you the quickest; childhood.  Holden, since Kenneth died before he was considered an adult, thinks that Kenneth would hate that death would take away his childhood, and now, Holden is too afraid to continue his life.  Maybe he thought that if he did grow up, he would forget about Kenneth and suffer the same doom as him.  He blamed society for what happened to our brother; he always talked about the phonies, who all seemed to be people after their adolescence.
I went on to live life as Kenneth might have wanted.  I’m living in Hollywood making big bucks as a screenwriter.  It’s quite grand in fact, I just wish Holden would grow up, and not be scared of maturity.  I haven’t heard much from him lately, but I’ve heard he sent a letter to Phoebe from Korea.  I hope the army helps him grow up and see how short life is, maybe show him that immaturity is meant to be temporary.

No comments:

Post a Comment