A Catcher In The Rye - Summary Essay

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A Catcher In The Rye - Summary

A Catcher In The Rye - Summary

The Catcher in the Rye is narrated by Holden Caulfield, a sixteen year-old boy
recuperating in a rest home from a nervous breakdown, some time in 1950. Holden tells the
story of his last day at a school called Pencey Prep, and of his subsequent psychological
meltdown in New York City. Holden has been expelled from Pencey for academic failure, and
after an unpleasant evening with his self-satisfied roommate Stradlater and their pimply
next-door neighbor Ackley, he decides to leave Pencey for good and spend a few days alone
in New York City before returning to his parents' Manhattan apartment. In New York, he
succumbs to increasing feelings of loneliness and desperation brought on by the hypocrisy
and ugliness of the adult world; he feels increasingly tormented by the memory of his
younger brother Allie's death, and his life is complicated by his burgeoning sexuality. He
wants to see his sister Phoebe and his old girlfriend Jane Gallagher, but instead he
spends his time with Sally Hayes, a shallow socialite Holden's age, and Carl Luce, a
pretentious Columbia student Holden treats as a source of sexual knowledge Increasingly
lonely, Holden finally decides to sneak back to his parents' apartment to talk to Phoebe.
He borrows some money from her, then goes to stay with his former English teacher, Mr.
Antolini. When he believes Mr. Antolini to be making a homosexual advance toward him,
Holden leaves his apartment, and spends the rest of the night on a bench in Grand Central
Station. The next day Holden experiences the worst phase of his nervous breakdown. He
wanders the streets, looking at children and talking to Allie. He tries to leave New York
forever and hitchhike west, but when Phoebe insists on going with him he relents, agreeing
to go back home to protect his sister from the ugliness of the world. He takes her to the
park, and watches her ride on the merry-go-round; he suddenly feels overwhelmed by an
inexplicable, intense happiness. Holden concludes his story by refusing to talk about what
happened after that, but he fills in the most important details: he went home, was sent to
the rest home, and will attend a new school next year. He regrets telling his story to so
many people; talking about it, he says, makes him miss everyone


By: Anna
E-mail: Go0de2shu

The Impossible Job: Catcher in the Rye Recent studies show that depression is common among
teenagers. Although the research may be new, it is not a new disease that has occupied
teenagers. In the novel Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the main character Holden
Caufield is a depressed young man searching for good in the world; scenes in this story
push Holden over the edge until he has an epiphany that eventually causes him to have a
breakdown. Holden's constant inquiry about the location of the ducks in Central Park and
his conversation with Sunny, instead of sexual intercourse, signify a lost boy in
desperate need of help. Holden interrogates two taxi cab drivers about the location of the
ducks during winter in Central Park. As Holden questions the second driver, Horwitz, the
taxi cab driver responds by relating the ducks to the fish in the lake. The taxi cab
driver irritably responds to Holden's barrage of questions by replying, "If you was a
fish, Mother Nature'd take care of you, wouldn't she?" (109) The answer is satisfactory to
Holden because he knows that wherever the ducks may be, they are taken care of. Holden's
motive for wanting to know where the ducks fly in winter is that he cares for them because
they relate to him. Similarly, Holden is subconsciously searching for help; he believes
that by helping others, such as the ducks, he will find good in the world that will warm
his heart and cure him of his depression. However, he finds the ducks do not cure his
depression and again he discovers himself feeling lonely. Soon after the duck incident,
Holden has his first encounter with Sunny. He starts talking to her and states his (phony)
age. Sunny responds, "Like fun you are." (123) Then, Holden recognizes she is just a kid;
prostitution is no way for a child to live. As Holden tries to reach out to her by
initiating a conversation, instead of sex, she only pushes him away by stating, "Let's
go." (125) Sunny eventually leaves and again Holden feels depressed. He only wishes to
help her because subconsciously he could relate to her: they were both trapped in a world
in which they did not want to participate. Mr. Antolini's discussion with Holden,
identifying his problem, causes Holden's depression to soar to a new level. Holden calls
Mr. Antolini because he remembers him as a decent man with whom he could hold a decent
conversation. Thus Holden enters his apartment and Mr. Antolini recognizes something is
wrong with Holden. Mr. Antolini vocalizes his concerns by stating that Holden is "riding
for some kind of a terrible, terrible fall." (242) Holden cowers away from his advice by
thinking to himself he is tired. However, Mr. Antolini hammers on stating, "But I do say
that educated and scholarly men, if they're brilliant and scholarly to begin with-which,
unfortunately, is rarely the case-tend to leave infinitely more valuable records behind
them than men do who are merely brilliant and creative." (246) Mr. Antolini is trying to
help Holden by saying that if he does not apply himself to receiving an education, he is
ruining and depriving himself of a happy life; his future will depend on the degree of his
education. Holden tells himself he is tired and in fact, he is actually establishing a
wall in order to block out Mr. Antolini's advice. Later, Holden goes to bed and finds Mr.
Antolini stroking his head. He exclaims, "What the hellya doing?" (249) Holden's new
"wall" is the assumption that Mr. Antolini is a homosexual. As a result, Holden believes
this gives him the right to flee from Mr. Antolini's apartment. Later, Holden becomes more
depressed as he realizes Mr. Antolini was only admiring him but, he realizes this at a
safe distance. It is another part of his "wall" to not hear more of Mr. Antolini's
diagnosis; he knows he will never return to the Antolini's apartment. Holden's depression
deepens as he has an epiphany both in the museum and at the carousel. For example, Holden
stands in a tomb (in the museum) and again he views another "Fuck you" scrawled under the
glass in red crayon. Holden narrates, "That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a
place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any." (264) Holden now realizes,
depressingly, he cannot save all the innocent children from the evil of the adult world;
he will never be a catcher in the rye. Next, Holden sees Phoebe as she approaches him with
a suitcase. He asks, knowingly, what the suitcase is for and she responds, "I'm going with
you. Can't I?" (267) Holden feels as if he is about to faint; he knows that taking Phoebe
with him would be destroying her life too. He knows he cannot save Phoebe because he must
help himself first. They cross over to the carousel; Holden consequently has a second
epiphany. While Phoebe tries to grab hold of the gold ring Holden states, "The thing with
kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say
anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them."
(274) Holden realizes you cannot tell a kid not to act as a kid: they will no longer be
innocent. It depresses him to know he will never again be innocent and that he cannot warn
Phoebe of the adult world because she will no longer be innocent. The world is more
knowledgeable today about depression in adolescents. However, depression was just as
common long ago as it is today. In J.D. Salinger's book Catcher in the Rye, Holden
Caufield is a troubled, depressed teen looking for a world that is not phony; eventually
four scenes in the novel finally lead him to a breakdown. In the end, Holden discovers
that being a catcher in the rye is an impossible job and that he cannot he even save
Phoebe.

Catcher in the Rye: Theme By: Anonymous J.D. Salinger uses Holden Caulfield's anti-heroic
characteristics to develop the theme of innocence and childhood. Holden is afraid of
growing up and would prefer to remain an innocent child. He seems unable to face the
responsibilities that come as one gets older. His continued flunking at school shows this.
"They kicked me out. I wasn't suppose to come back after Christmas vacation, on account of
I was flunking four subjects and not applying myself at all." (Page 4). School is normally
where young children learn to become responsible adult members of society, but Holden
rejects the values at Pency just as he did the other schools from which he was expelled.
Flunking school is a way Holden can hold on to his innocence and childhood, instead of
growing up. Holden's relationship with Jane Gallagher also reveals his fear of growing up.
Nostalgia and fond childhood memories are pleasant for Holden. His relationship with Jane
was innocent, even though they kissed; Holden informs us it wasn't on the mouth! "Then she
really started to cry, and the next thing I knew, I was kissing her all over-anywhere-her
eyes, her nose, her forehead, her eyebrows and all, her ears-her whole face except her
mouth and all. She sort of wouold not let me get to her mouth."(Page 79). Jane represents
a symbol of innocence in the eyes of Holden. Throughout the novel Holden thinks of phoning
Jane, but is unable to talk to her, probably because he is afraid of spoiling this
innocence and childhood he feels with her. Again this shows his fear of growing up. The
second anti-heroic characteristic of Holden that develops the theme of Innocence and
childhood is his childlike qualities. Holden's innocence and childlike qualities are
exposed when he tries to act out his perceptions of adult behaviour. For example his
initial attempts to get alcohol are unsuccessful and when he finally does get served he
gets drunk and breaks his sister's present. "Then something terrible happened just as I
got in the park. I dropped old Phoebe's record. It broke into about fifty pieces. It was
in a big envelop and all but it broke anyway." (Page 154). The record represented the bond
he had with his sister, which was pure and innocent. It was the language of music, which
also bonded his memories of their childhood. His experience with the prostitute shows his
innocence regarding sex. "Ya got a watch on ya?" she asked me again, and then she stood up
and pulled her dress over her head. I certainly felt peculier when she did that. I mean
she did it so sudden and all. I know you're supposed to feel pretty sexy when somebody
gets up and pulls their dress over their head but I didn't. Sexy was about the last thing
I was feeling. I felt much more depressed than sexy. (Page 94)

Catcher in the Rye By: Katie Fels E-mail: TDKlion2000@aol.com The Catcher in the Rye In
J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, the first person narration is critical in helping
the reader to know and understand the main character, Holden Caulfield. Holden, in his
narration, relates a flashback of a significant period of his life, three days and nights
on his own in New York City. Through his narration, Holden discloses to the reader his
innermost thoughts and feelings. He thus provides the reader not only with information of
what occurred, but also how he felt about what happened. Holden's thoughts and ideas
reveal many of his character traits. One late Saturday night, four days before the
beginning of school vacation, Holden is alone, bored and restless, wondering what to do.
He decides to leave Pencey, his school, at once and travels to New York by train. He
decides that, once in New York, he will stay in a cheap motel until Wednesday, when he is
to return home. His plan shows the reader how very impetuous he is and how he acts on a
whim. He is unrealistic, thinking that he has a foolproof plan, even though the extent of
his plans are to "take a room in a hotel.., and just take it easy till Wednesday."
Holden's excessive thoughts on death are not typical of most adolescents. His near
obsession with death might come from having experienced two deaths in his early life. He
constantly dwells on Allie, his brother's, death. From Holden's thoughts, it is obvious
that he loves and misses Allie. In order to hold on to his brother and to minimize the
pain of his loss, Holden brings Allie's baseball mitt along with him where ever he goes.
The mitt has additional meaning and significance for Holden because Allie had written
poetry, which Holden reads, on the baseball mitt. Holden's preoccupation with death can be
seen in his contemplation of a dead classmate, James Castle. It tells the reader something
about Holden that he lends his turtleneck sweater to this classmate, with whom he is not
at all close. Holden's feelings about people reveal more of his positive traits. He
constantly calls people phonies, even his brother, D.B., who " has sold out to Hollywood."
Although insulting, his seemingly negative feelings show that Holden is a thinking and
analyzing, outspoken individual who values honesty and sincerity. He is unimpressed with
people who try to look good in other's eyes. Therefore, since it is obvious that Holden is
bright, the reason for his flunking out of school would seem to be from a lack of
interest. Holden has strong feelings of love towards children as evidenced through his
caring for Phoebe, his little sister. He is protective of her, erasing bad words from the
walls in her school and in a museum, in order that she not learn from the graffiti. His
fondness for children can be inferred when he tells her that, at some time in the future,
he wants to be the only grown-up with "all these little kids playing some game in this big
field of rye and all." He'll stand on the edge of a cliff and catch anybody who starts to
fall off the edge of the cliff. He got this image from his misinterpretation of a line
from the Robert Burns poem, " if a body catch a body comin' through the rye." When
situations are described, in person or in a book, they are influenced by the one who
describes them, and by his or her perceptions and experiences. Through Holden's
expressions of his thoughts and feelings, the reader sees a youth, sensitive to his
surroundings, who chooses to deal with life in unique ways. Holden is candid, spontaneous,
analytical, thoughtful, and sensitive, as evidenced by his narration. Like most
adolescents, feelings about people and relationships are often on his mind. Unfortunately,
in Holden's case, he seems to expect the worst, believing that the result of getting close
to people is pain. Pain when others reject you or pain when they leave you, such as when a
friend walks off or a beloved brother dies. It would not have been possible to feel
Holden's feelings or understand his thoughts nearly as well had the book been written in
third person.



Catcher and the Rye
By: Kyle
E-mail: Hallydally@hotmail.com

CATCHER IN THE RYE FINAL ESSAY "Loneliness" Ever felt like there needs to be someone there
to talk to, cry with, fight with, or just need a hug from? Those feelings dwell from
loneliness, something Holden Caulfield knows all about. Holden Caulfield, J.D. Salinger's
main character in the book The Catcher In the Rye, is young man on the verge of having a
nervous breakdown. One contributor to this breakdown, is the loneliness that Holden
experiences. His loneliness is apparent through many ways including: his lack of friends,
his longing for his dead brother, and the way he attempts to gain acceptance from others.
Holden Caulfield is currently attending Pencey private school; well technically getting
the boot from there for his poor academics, and this is his third school he has now been
through. At Pencey, just as in the past two schools, Holden has troubles making friends.
To Holden, everyone is either corny of phony. He used the term to describe what a person
is if they don't act naturally and follow other people's manners and grace. Holden didn't
like phonies, he thought of them as if they were trying to show off. He didn't like it
when they showed off because it seemed so fake and unnatural every time they would do it.
When Holden was on his way to the bar, he shared his insights about the piano player
Earnie. "Earnie's a big, fat, colored guy who plays the piano. He's a terrific snob and
won't hardly talk to you unless you are a big shot or celebrity or something, but he can
really play the piano. He's so good, he's almost corny in fact" (page 80). Also on page
126, he makes reference to Earnie's playing again. "They [people outside the theater]
acted a little bit the way old Earnie, down in the village, plays the piano. If you do
something too good, then after a while if you don't watch it, you start showing off. And
then you're not as good anymore." Holden does not allow himself to have friendship because
of his "he is corny" attitude. Right away in the beginning of the book, the reader knows
that Holden is lonely when he separates himself from the rest of the Pencey students by
watching the football game from Thomsen Hill and not the grand stands. "..you could hear
them [students in grand stands] all yelling, deep and terrific on the Pencey side, because
practically the whole school was there except me" (page 5). Holden wasn't a very sociable
person partly because he finds himself better than many others. He dislikes his roommate
because of his generic leather luggage. "Its really hard to be roommates with someone if
your luggage is better than theirs, it really is" (page 109), says Holden. He dislikes his
roommate over something so insignificant as luggage. Holden sits in his room reading,
cause he has no friends to be with. A kid named Ackely is his next door roommate, and he
doesn't seem to want a friendship with him either. Holden finds Ackely's zit crusted face
ridiculous and doesn't want him in his room at first. This should light a bulb in the
readers head and signify internal problems with Holden and shows he has a lot of
loneliness. Holden's loneliness is apparent in more than just him lacking friends. His
loneliness shines through by the way he misses his deceased brother, Allie. Holden makes
several references to Allie and how the two used to do stuff (page 38, 68, 98, 138, 140,
155, 198, 210). Holden deeply misses his brother and even talks to him out loud (page 98).
I believe Holden misses his brother more than others because Holden never got that final
closure to his brother's death; Holden never went to Allie's funeral, and so I believe
that Holden didn't get to say his good-bye. What Holden did do though, is punch out all
the windows in the garage the night of Allie's death. When Holden gets deeply depressed
and lonely, he just talks to Allie- wishing that Allie was still here to do stuff with. By
not letting go of Allie, it is visible to the reader how lonely Holden Caulfield is.
Lastly, the final way to detect Holden's loneliness, is portrayed through his ways of
trying to gain acceptance from others. Holden tried all he could to fit in. He drank,
cursed and criticized life in general to make it seem he was very knowing of these habits.
Holden just wanted to be loved. I know he said he didn't care about how people thought he
looked when he wore his hunting cap, but deep inside I believe he wanted to be loved, and
he attempted to do this by gaining acceptance of those around him. This is a very human
behavior, though. I think we have all been guilty of this sometime in our lives. We have
changed our clothing, our language, our lifestyle to be ‘normal.' To try and fit in with
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