The Catcher in the Rye is an American novel by J. D. Salinger that was partially published in serial form 1945–46 before being novelized in 1951. Originally intended for adults, it is often read by adolescents for its themes of angst and alienation, and as a critique of superficiality in society.
The novel also deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, connection, sex, and depression. The main character, Holden Caulfield, has become an icon for teenage rebellion. Caulfield, nearly of age, gives his opinion on a wide variety of topics as he narrates his recent life events.
|Catcher in the Rye Summary|
The Catcher in the Rye Summary
Holden Caulfield, the seventeen-year-old narrator and protagonist of the novel, addresses the reader directly from a mental hospital or sanitarium in southern California. He wants to tell us about events that took place over a two-day period the previous December.
Typically, he first digresses to mention his older brother, D.B., who was once a "terrific" short-story writer but now has sold out and writes scripts in nearby Hollywood. The body of the novel follows. It is a frame story, or long flashback, constructed through Holden's memory.
Holden begins at Pencey Prep, an exclusive private school in Pennsylvania, on the Saturday afternoon of the traditional football game with school rival, Saxon Hall. Holden misses the game. Manager of the fencing team, he managed to lose the team's equipment on the subway that morning, resulting in the cancellation of a match in New York. He is on his way to the home of his history teacher, Mr. Spencer, to say good-bye. Holden has been expelled and is not to return after Christmas break, which begins Wednesday.
Spencer is a well-meaning but long-winded old man, and Holden gladly escapes to the quiet of an almost deserted dorm. Wearing his new red hunting cap, he begins to read. His reverie is temporary. First, a dorm neighbor named Ackley disturbs him. Later, Holden argues with his roommate, Stradlater, who fails to appreciate a theme that Holden has written for him about Holden's deceased brother Allie's baseball glove.
A womanizer, Stradlater has just returned from a date with Holden's old friend Jane Gallagher. The two roommates fight, Stradlater winning easily. Holden has had enough of Pencey Prep and catches a train to New York City where he plans to stay in a hotel until Wednesday, when his parents expect him to return home for Christmas vacation.
En route to New York, Holden meets the mother of a Pencey classmate and severely distorts the truth by telling her what a popular boy her "rat" son is. Holden's Manhattan hotel room faces windows of another wing of the hotel, and he observes assorted behavior by "perverts." Holden struggles with his own sexuality. He meets three women in their thirties, tourists from Seattle, in the hotel lounge and enjoys dancing with one but ends up with only the check.
Following a disappointing visit to Ernie's Nightclub in Greenwich Village, Holden agrees to have a prostitute, Sunny, visit his room. Holden has second thoughts, makes up an excuse, and pays the girl to leave. To his surprise, Maurice, her pimp, soon returns with her and beats up Holden for more money. He has lost two fights in one night. It is near dawn Sunday morning.
After a short sleep, Holden telephones Sally Hayes, a familiar date, and agrees to meet her that afternoon to go to a play. Meanwhile, Holden leaves the hotel, checks his luggage at Grand Central Station, and has a late breakfast. He meets two nuns, one an English teacher, with whom he discusses Romeo and Juliet. Holden looks for a special record for his 10-year-old sister, Phoebe, called "Little Shirley Beans." He spots a small boy singing "If a body catch a body coming through the rye," which somehow makes Holden feel less depressed.
Sally is snobbish and "phony," but the two watch a play featuring married Broadway stars Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Sally and Holden skate at Radio City but fight when Holden tries to discuss things that really matter to him and suddenly suggests that they run off together. Holden leaves, sees the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall, endures a movie, and gets very drunk. Throughout the novel, Holden has been worried about the ducks in the lagoon at Central Park. He tries to find them but only manages to break Phoebe's recording in the process. Exhausted physically and mentally, he heads home to see his sister.
Holden and Phoebe are close friends as well as siblings. He tells her that the one thing he'd like to be is "the catcher in the rye." He would stand near the edge of a cliff, by a field of rye, and catch any of the playing children who, in their abandon, come close to falling off. When his parents return from a late night out, Holden, undetected, leaves the apartment and visits the home of Mr. Antolini, a favorite teacher, where he hopes to stay a few days. Startled, Holden awakes in the predawn hours to find Antolini patting Holden's head. He quickly leaves.
Monday morning, Holden arranges to meet Phoebe for lunch. He plans to say good-bye and head west where he hopes to live as a deaf-mute. She insists on leaving with him, and he finally agrees to stay. Holden's story ends with Phoebe riding a carrousel in the rain as Holden watches. In the final chapter, Holden is at the sanitarium in California. He doesn't want to tell us any more. In fact, the whole story has only made him miss people, even the jerks.
Questions about The Catcher in the Rye Plot
What is the story Catcher in the Rye about?
The Catcher in the Rye, novel by J.D. Salinger published in 1951. The novel details two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, Holden searches for truth and rails against the “phoniness” of the adult world.
What is a short summary of The Catcher in the Rye?
The Catcher in the Rye chronicles a few days in the life of Holden Caulfield, a young man who hates adults, is disillusioned with responsibility, and is quick to point how what he finds as "phony" in the world.
What is the main point of The Catcher in the Rye?
As its title indicates, the dominating theme of The Catcher in the Rye is the protection of innocence, especially of children. For most of the book, Holden sees this as a primary virtue. It is very closely related to his struggle against growing up.
Why is Catcher in the Rye controversial?
School boards and parent-teacher associations have been hostile toward the novel because of Holden's profanity-laden speech and his sexual adventures following his expulsion from prep school. These include an episode with a pimp and a prostitute (with whom Holden does not have sex).
Why is it called The Catcher in the Rye?
The book's title stems from a scene in Chapter 16 when Holden observes a young boy who, ignored by his parents, walks in the street while singing “If a body catch a body coming through the rye.” Holden interprets this scene as a perfect expression of the innocence of youth.
What does the Catcher and the Rye symbolize?
The title of The Catcher in the Rye is a reference to "Comin' Thro the Rye," a Robert Burns poem and a symbol for the main character's longing to preserve the innocence of childhood.
What is Holden's biggest problem?
The major conflict is within Holden's psyche. Part of him wants to connect with other people on an adult level (and, more specifically, to have a sexual encounter), while part of him wants to reject the adult world as “phony,” and to retreat into his own memories of childhood.
How does Catcher in the Rye end?
In a final, awkward attempt to save himself, Holden decides to go "way out West" and live as a deaf-mute so he won't have to talk with people. Before leaving, he arranges to say good-bye to Phoebe. While he is with her, he decides to stop running and return home.
Is there a moral to The Catcher in the Rye?
Try to listen to yourself, have a break, when in need of one. Holden gives a great example of courage when he is not stopping and backing off. Do not let sadness and anxiety get to you, face the challenges and you'll get over them. The Catcher in the Rye is not only a beautiful piece of writing.
Why everyone should read Catcher in the Rye?
The book puts its reader right in the head of a wayward sixteen year-old boy struggling with the process of growing up. It accurately reflects the time period in which it was written. The novel published in 1951 paints a picture of affluent New York City life in the post Word War II era.
Why did Salinger regret write Catcher in the Rye?
Salinger himself said he regretted writing "The Catcher in the Rye," mostly because of the attention it drew to him. The film also refers to Mary McCarthy's famous takedown of the Glass family stories, "J.D.
What is ironic about the poem in Catcher in the Rye?
Even more ironic is that Holden says he wants to be the catcher in the rye—he wants to be "catching" all those little children playing in the rye. But the poem isn't about preserving childhood innocence at all—it's about sex. Holden exists in a world that is steeped in sexuality.
How is Holden's name symbolic?
A brief note about Holden's name: a “caul” is a membrane that covers the head of a fetus during birth. Thus, the caul in his name may symbolize the blindness of childhood or the inability of the child to see the complexity of the adult world.
What is good about The Catcher in the Rye?
The Catcher in the Rye is an all-time classic in coming-of-age literature- an elegy to teenage alienation, capturing the deeply human need for connection and the bewildering sense of loss as we leave childhood behind. J.D. Salinger's (1919–2010) classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951.
What are some important facts about The Catcher in the Rye?
The Catcher in the Rye is also one of the most taught books in America. Between 1961 and 1982, Catcher was the most studied book in high schools. In 1981, the book was both the most frequently censored book in the United States, and, at the same time, the second-most frequently taught novel in American public schools.
Why do we read Catcher in the Rye in school?
It's a good book to read, because the writing is respectable.” More than anything, “Catcher in the Rye” is an important part of school curriculum because it sparks discussion. Students have passionate opinions on the novel, whether they are positive or negative.
Is Catcher in the Rye Based on a true story?
It was Salinger's first published novel and was inspired by his own experiences as a youngster, and many events from Salinger's early life are reflected in the story.