Salinger, J. D. - The Catcher In The Rye

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2000

5 Pages, Grade: noch keine

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Reasons for my choice of book for this book report

My brother suggested me ,,The catcher in the Rye" for my book report. He told me that the novel was recommendable because it takes not toolong to read it, the language is quite simple so it would not be to difficult to me to get on well with the text. I followed his advice and I must say that it turned out as prudent.

This book has been a joy to read. Holden was very funny at times especially when he called Sally to ask her about "trim a tree" for Christmas. It's written in the English we can see on TV everywhere. That made it easy to read. Sometimes I could really understand the way Holden felt because I know what I felt when I was his age. I could identify myself with him in some situations. The content never got boring because there was always something new to learn about Holden's character. I believe that everybody has thought about running away from home when they were around sixteen-year-old. It makes it very interesting to read of how it might have been to do so.


Jerome David Salinger tells his novel ,,The catcher in the Rye" in form of a flashback of Holden Caulfield, an adolescent boy, who tries to grow up in an aduld world and to show that he is an aduld.

Holden Caulfield is a prep school stundent who has flunked out of school the week before Christmas. He plans to leave school three days before Christmas vacation and to spend some time on his own in a hotel in New York City, where he lives. Even though he knows a lot of people in and around New York he is constantly lonesome and looking for someone who sympathizes with his opinions. He spends his time with several people during his stay but he does not get close with any of them. The only person Holden really seems to like is his ten- year-old sister Phoebe but he is afraid of calling her because his parents might find out that he has flunked out of school again. So what he does is that he sneaks into his home to see Phoebe but she disappoints him by making fun of him because he was expelled from another school. The only solution for his problems Holden sees in running away and to hide himself as a deaf mute. But he changes his mind and decides to rejoin his family. The story ends as Holden is telling this whole story to a Doctor in a mental hospital.

Characterization of Holden Caulfield

Holden is the sixteen-year-old son of wealthy parents who live near Central Park in New York City. He is telling the story to a doctor in a mental hospital near Hollywood.

Holden has flunked out of his third prep school. He tries to feal bad about this but without succsess. For children of his age school should be the most important thing but he does not care about his grades. Although he is intelligent school represents nothing usefull for him. It stands for the "phony" values he hates.

His plan to stay in a cheap hotel in New York till the holidays start shows the reader how impetuous he is. He is unrealistic believing he has an exact plan when his whole plan is to "take a room in a hotel..., and just take it easy till Wednesday" (chapter 7).

The reason why he has problems to integrate himself into society is the corruption of the world. As a reason for that he sees the process of growing up. In his opinion children stand for innocence. Holden has a dream of changing the world by stopping children to grow up. Like this the world would be perfect forever. When he is in the museum he realizes that nothing has changed there. That reminds him of his dream and he imagines to stay behind one of the glass boxes so he would not change anymore, he would not grow up.

Holden tries to protect people he sees as vulnerable. He likes weak people and losers even though they cause him pain, discomfort or trouble. In the center of his protective instinct are children because they can change the world. As an evidence for that you can take his caring about his little sister Phoebe. One good example is when Holden is delivering the note to his sister. He encounters a "fuck-you" written on the wall. Holden carefully rubs this off with his hand so as to protect the innocent children from reading it. Later on he finds "fuck-you" scratched with a knife. He discovers that he cannot get rid off this one. This incident is the beginning of Holden's realization that can not become true: his dream.

Another character trait of Holden is that he is quite sensitive. He has got a certain opinion about whatever he sees. He gets upset about nearly everything. Holden always calls people phonies even his brother D.B. who "has sold out to Hollywood"

Although insulting it shows that Holden is a thinking and analyzing individual who values honesty and sincerity His provocatic opinions are the reason for his loneliness. He cannot find anyone who shares his view of the world. That is why he believes 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 brother dies.

Important paragraph of the novel

(...)"Finally, what I decided I ´ d do, I decided I`d go away. (...) Just so people didn`t know me and I didn`t know anybody. I thought what I`d do was, I`d pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes. That way I wouldn`t have to have any goddam stupid useless conversations with anybody.(...)"

In my opinion this inner-monologue of Holden is a key position. It is the climax of his negative attitude towards life and other people (`` ... everybody...would leave me alone").

Meanwhile his total mental seperation from the rest of the world he creates his own future in a positive romantic way.

He imagines to `` build (...) a little cabin", (...) right near the woods, to marry (...) this beautiful girl (...) to have children, (...) and live there for the rest of my life.(...)" This is an essential passage of the book, because here we have the condensed point of the main topic dealing with beeing fed up with other people and running away from it all.

Formal aspects

Form and structure:

Holden tells his story in a series of flaskbacks during which he drifts from one emotion to the other. The hospital is the main structure on which the story is built. In the first chapter it says :

"this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run- down and had to come down out here and take it easy." It is not until the last chapter that there is another reference to the hospital.

The story itself divides into three parts. In the first part Holden is at Pency peparing himself to leave on his own before the holidays start. The second part of the book starts with chapter 9. During this part Holden is trying to find somebody who has the same opinions and feels the same way he does. When Holden decides to go home and visit Phoebe the novel enters the final section. When this section reaches a climax in Chapter 25 the reader is abruptly brought back to the outside structure, the hospital.

Style of writing:

Salinger tried to write the story in the way a typical teenager of the 1950s would do it. The language Holden is using gives the reader many hints of his personality. It seems that he himself does not really know what he feels. Holden often uses the word "really" (ex. "It really is") and the expression "if you want to know the truth". By doing so he emphasizes his sincerity because he wants to seperate himself from the so-called phonies who use language to hide their feelings. Salinger frequently uses italicizes words. This is to show the reader that Holden emphasizes or stesses this part when he is telling it to the Doctor

What does the author want to tell the reader

First of all you have to bare in mind that Holden and Salinger have a lot in common. I think it is appropriate to say that "The Catcher in the Rye" is some how a biography of J.D. Salinger. But I do not really think that Salinger just wanted to tell us a funny part of his life. This is not a simple story of a boy rebelling, it is more a great big metaphor for the world and how we are. So Salinger wanted us to learn more about ourselves - our feelings and our opinions.

Information on the author

Jerome David Salinger was born in New York City in 1919, as the son of a prosperous importer of meat and cheese. He was an average student in the public school he attended and after he flunked out of the private McBurny School his parents sent him to Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania. He later spent less than a month at New York University and then took a short-story course at Columbia University. His first story was published in 1940. From 1942 to 1946 he was in the Army, continuing to write "whenever I can find time and an unoccupied foxhole". During World War II he was drafted into the infantry and was involved in the invasion of Normandy. He returned to New York in 1946 and in the next few years had stories published in various periodicals, notably The New Yorker. In 1953 Salinger met Claire Douglas, a British-born Radcliffe student. She apparently became the model for more than one of his characters. They were married two years later and they had two children, Margret Ann, born in 1955, and Matthew, born in 1960. Salinger's later published works have all been stories. Most of them deal with the

children of the Glass family who, like Salinger, have a Jewish father and a Christian mother. These stories have been collected in "Nine Stories" (1953), "Franny and Zooey" (1961) and "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction" (1963). All books received considerable critical praise and were very popular. Salinger's published literary output declined over the years. By the early 1980s he had not published a work in some twenty years. Still he is considered one of the most vital writers of the century.

His reputation rests largely on "The Catcher in the Rye".

He wrote it in 1951 and it became immediately a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and gained a huge international success, and sells still some 250 000 copies annually. Salinger did not do much to help publicity and asked that his photograph is not used in connection with the book.

Part of his legend is based upon his isolation and his intentional separation of himself from society.

Source material:

- The Catcher in the Rye, 1951
- Barron's Book Notes, 1992

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Salinger, J. D. - The Catcher In The Rye
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the catcher in the rye J.D. Salinger
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Thomas Becker (Author), 2000, Salinger, J. D. - The Catcher In The Rye, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • Olivia Allendorf on 2/19/2002

    The catcher in the rye, J.D. Salinger.

    sometimes wrong spelling. but all in all a good job!

  • guest on 5/2/2002


    wirklich gut und ausführlich

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