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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thornton P. Knowles On The Novel That Inspired The Murder Of John Lennon

At his 1981 sentencing hearing, after being convicted of murdering John Lennon, Mark David Chapman read aloud from J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye: "I'm standing at the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over...I'm just the catcher in the rye and all."  Chapman had been reading the novel just before he shot Lennon to death in front of the musician's apartment building in Manhattan. The insane killer believed this passage from the novel justified the cold-blooded murder. This wasn't the first, nor the last work of fiction to inspire a real life killing. There is a lot of mental illness in this country, and what it can lead to is unpredictable and frightening. There's no way to tell the dangerous ones from those who are simply nuts.

Thornton P. Knowles


  1. How did the Catcher in the Rye inspire Chapman? The catcher in the rye is saving people, not murdering people.

  2. I don't know. To know that I guess you would have to comprehend the mind of an insane person.