The Catcher in the Rye
Number of pages
Date of first publication
Novel / Novella / Short Stories / Play
Value given to this book
A B C D
Explain the title
: In the book, the main character Holden Caulfield is very negative about just about everything in the world. Somewhere at the end of the book though, he mentions one thing he wishes to be: To be a 'catcher in the rye', which wrongly refers to a poem by Robert Burns. The real title is 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye', but Holden is always picturing little kids playing in a big field of rye, near a cliff. And he wants to save them, from going over the edge, which means that he wants to save children from things he doesn't like, like being a 'phoney' and hypocrisy etc.
Who tells the story?
The whole story is told by the main character Holden.
Where does the story take place?
Does the setting play a decisive role in the story? Explain. The story takes place in 'the big apple', or New York. It doesn't really matter that the story takes place specifically in New York, but it does matter that it takes place in a (big) American city, because the language spoken in the book is American, and it has a lot of words in it that are used by Americans.
When does the story take place? (If you are not sure about the exact dates, guess by fifty years, e.g. 1600-1650, etc.) Does it really make any difference (to the story) in which time it takes place? Why do you think so?
The story takes place between the end of World War II and the beginning of the fifties. But it doesn't play a decisive role, because the story could've happened any time.
How much time passes between the beginning and the end of the story? Indicate the amount of time.
About a week, the story begins about ten days before Christmas, and it ends a couple of days before Christmas (2 or 3 days).
Which part of the book did you find most interesting or fun? Why?
I didn't quite like the beginning, but that's because I had to get used to the story, the characters and the language.
Which part of the book was very bad or very uninteresting, according to you? Explain why.
I liked the whole book, except a bit for the beginning, but I didn't find that uninteresting.
Suppose you had to choose: which character in the book would you like to be? Why this particular character?
I liked Holden in some ways, because sometimes I recognise (a bit) his feelings of other persons. I don't wish to be him though, because he's a bit to negative most of the time, not that I didn't like to read that, but I'm just not as negative as him. In other ways, I liked his sister (a bit), because she is very excited about things, but I wouldn't want to be her either.
Mention one character from the book you dislike, or could eventually dislike? Why?
I didn't like a girl named Sally Hayes, because she is offended very quick, to quick.
Compare the main character(s) of the beginning of the story to those same characters at the end of the book. Have they / Has he or she changed? Have they / Has he or she learnt or achieved anything?
Holden has changed, because in the beginning of the book, he is negative about almost everything, and at the end he finds out that there are things that matter to him.
Could you indicate what kind of story/ play this is? You can choose more than one option.
[ ] love story [ ] science fiction
[ ] adventure [ ] detective/thriller
[ ] (auto)biography [X] philosophical
[ ] historical subject [ ] comedy
[X] lifestyle [ ] tragedy
[ ] fantasy/fairy tale [ ] ..........................
Is it possible to indicate a turning point in the story; a point from which things clearly start to change? Try to describe it.
The turning point in the story is when Holden sees his kid sister Phoebe, she is one of the few persons he really likes. When he is chatting with her, he realises that he has something to care about.
Do you feel the author has tried to teach you or explain something to you by writing this book? If so, what? Or has he/she only tried to entertain you?
I think the author tried to explain that everybody has something of value in his/her life. And that they just need to find out what that thing is, or you don't really have something to live for.
Were you satisfied about the ending of the book? Explain your answer. If you were not satisfied with it, could you explain how you would have expected it to end (more or less)?
I was satisfied about the ending, because everything turned out good after all. I really wanted Holden to be lucky, because I kind of liked his thoughts.
Would you recommend this book to anyone? Why? If you were to give this book a mark, what would it be?
I really liked the way the author expressed the feelings of himself through the main character, and the way he described it, therefore I would recommend it to anyone who thinks about life and the things in life. But I surely would dissuade it to someone, who matches with what Holden describes as a 'phoney', someone who is a hypocrite. Mark: 9 -
Holden Caulfield, the son of a rich Jewish lawyer in New York, has been kicked out from fashionable Pencey Preparatory School because he has flunked all subjects except English. It is a few days before Christmas. Having said goodbye to old Spencer, his history teacher, Ward Stratlater, his conceited, athletic roommate, and Robert Ackley, the pimpy, boring boy that rooms next to him, Holden leaves on Saturday night to spend a few days on his own in New York before returning to his parents' home. He meets the mother of one of his schoolmates in the train, and, just to please her, tells her a pack of flattering lies about her son. He takes a room at a cheap, depressing hotel, from where he phones a cabaret girl and unsuccessfully tries to make a date with her. He would like to call his affectionate 10-year-old sister Phoebe, of whom he is very fond, but he knows she is asleep and he might get his parents on the phone.
Holden tries to amuse himself in the night club of the hotel, but finds it a boring experience. His visit to another night club downtown is just as disappointing. Returning to the hotel, he accepts the liftboy's offer of a prostitute, but depressed by and sorry for the girl, he only has a long talk with her and gives her the money agreed upon. Her pimp, Maurice, browbeats Holden into giving more money and maltreats him.
The next morning Holden calls his old girl friend Sally Hayes and makes a date with her. He tells he is tired of the phoney society he lives in and asks her to run away with him. But Sally, who is rather shallow, conceited and conventional girl, refuses indignantly. They quarrel and Holden leaves her. That night he meets his former Student Advisor, Carl Luce, a pseudo-refined intellectual. When Holden attempts to discuss his personal problems, Carl impatiently tells him to grow up and adjust himself to the world.
After getting drunk and making a nostalgic visit to Central Park Holden sneaks home and sees Phoebe, with whom he has a long, intimate talk. Phoebe is distressed by his negativism and challenges him to mention just one thing he would like to be. It is then that Holden tells her about his ideal of being the catcher in the rye, even though Phoebe corrects his misinterpretation of Burns' poem.
Holden decides to see his former English teacher, Mr Antolini, calls him, and sneaks out of his parents' apartment. He spends the night at the home of Mr Antolini, who is his last refuge because he thinks of him as the nearest thing to a non-phoney adult. Mr Antolini succeeds in establishing contact with Holden, calms him down and gives him some practical advice, urging him towards a less egotistical and more constructive idealism. But everything is ruined when, after Holden has relaxed and gone to sleep, he is awakened by Mr Antolini's patting him on the forehead, which he takes for a homosexual pass. Confused and frightened, Holden rushes out of the house, not knowing where to go. For a time he just wanders about, realising that his nerves are going to pieces and feeling utterly dejected. He decides to say goodbye to Phoebe before going out West. Meeting his sister, he is deeply moved by her affection and loyalty. He is overcome by love for her and for all people, and he knows he cannot leave. After going back to his parents he is taken to a rest home for psychological treatment. He recovers and tells about the experiences of these two dramatic days, which have taught him that he loves everyone he has ever known, 'even that goddam Maurice'.
Some words that are mentioned in the book, that are typical American
Phoney: an insincere or dishonest person.
Dough: slang for 'money'.
To puke: to vomit.
To shoot the bull: to talk about unimportant things.
Cut it out: slang for 'stop it'.
Sonuvabitch: son of a bitch, abusive term.
Corny: silly, sentimental.
Chucking it: lying.
To give somebody a buzz: to call (telephone) somebody.
Horny: sexually excited.
Innarested: American pronunciation of 'interested'.
To chew the fat: to talk.
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