Independent reading assignment
-The Catcher in the Rye
By: J.D. Salinger
Genre- Bildungsroman (coming-of-age novel)
-Year published: July 1951
-Literary period: Modern America, during a time of prosperity in the United States due to the industrial economy
Holden Caulfield- (protagonist) Holden is an intelligent and sensitive man. He cannot stand the world around him and tries as long as possible to stay out of the adult world. He is very rude and mean at times but only because he is weak and phony. He is very emotionally unstable.
Phonies-(antagonist) Throughout the book Holden talks about how the adult world is full of sad and depressing phonies. This is why most of the book Holden spends his time alone and isolated from the outer world. Holden sees the whole population as phonies because they cannot live up to his ideas of a simple society.
Plot Summary- The Catcher and the Rye is set around the 1950’s and is narrated by Holden Caulfield. Holden is 16 years old throughout the story. Holden begins with flunking out of his 4th school. Holden leaves the school early when he and his roommate get in a fight. He goes and stays in a hotel and while at the hotel goes down to the bar. The server won’t serve him after realizing he’s a minor, but Holden stays and dances with some of the girls. When he arrives back at the hotel the elevator operator, Maurice, offers him a prostitute. He agrees and has her sent up. He later regrets his decision and sends her away without fully paying her. Holden and Maurice get in a disagreement and Maurice punches him and takes back the money he is owed. The next morning he meets with Sally, an old friend. He eventually gets annoyed with her and leaves. After getting drunk he sneaks into his own apartment building and sees his sister but leaves later that night. The next day after Holden told Phoebe, his sister, that he was skipping town, she begged him to take her with him but instead they went to the zoo and then to the park and rode the carousel. He ends the story by saying how he grew up and realized he can’t be young forever. He will be going back to attend school in the fall.
-Innocence is one of the main themes in The Catcher and the Rye. Holden sees sex (the adult world) as a dirty and bad thing. He wants to save children from the dirtiness of the adult world. He feels the need to keep himself from becoming an adult.
-Isolation is another theme. Holden is personally, mentally and socially apart from the outside world. Holden often thinks about reaching out but stops himself because he is hesitant and passive.
-Painfulness of growing up is another theme. The book is about the growth of Holden but also about his fear of change and of things he doesn’t understand. To help deal with his fear of adulthood, he imagines the adult world as full of fakes and phonies while childhood is innocent and truthful.
-A symbol would be the ducks in Central Park. Holden struggles with growing up and shows his youthful exuberance by wondering where the ducks go every winter. Holden is struggling with adulthood and the migrating ducks help him realize and understand that not every change in life is permanent, like the ducks returning in the spring.
-A motif is loneliness. Holden’s loneliness is shown throughout the whole book. Even though Holden looks for people, he consistently becomes shy and leaves but then doesn’t know why he does this to himself. He likes to be isolated from the outer world because he doesn’t want to become part of the adult world. Holden’s alienating himself is his way of putting up a wall to the outside world and in a way gives him stability and a sense of safety.
-The point-of-view in The Catcher in the Rye is first person narrative. The whole book deals with Holden’s perspective and attitude toward life and growing up. Holden is contradictory at times because he sees the adult world around him