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J. D. Salinger. J. D. Salinger Childhood (“…all that David Copperfield kind of crap”) Born Jerome David (Sonny) Salinger on Jan. 1, 1919, in New York.

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Presentation on theme: "J. D. Salinger. J. D. Salinger Childhood (“…all that David Copperfield kind of crap”) Born Jerome David (Sonny) Salinger on Jan. 1, 1919, in New York."— Presentation transcript:


2 J. D. Salinger

3 Childhood (“…all that David Copperfield kind of crap”)
Born Jerome David (Sonny) Salinger on Jan. 1, 1919, in New York City Grew up near Central Park in upper Manhattan Son of a Jewish father (foods wholesaler and importer) and Christian mother Upper-middle class family

4 Molding Salinger into a “Splendid, Clear-thinking Young Man”
Attended two private schools First was Manhattan’s McBurney School Drama, journalism, manager of fencing team Flunked out Next attended Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, PA Began writing stories Graduated in 1936

5 College Attended New York University for one month in 1936
Was called “the worst English student in the history of the college” by one of his professors Quit school at father’s request to go to Austria and Poland to learn meat and cheese business (venture failed) Attended Ursinus College (PA), but quit to study fiction at Columbia University

6 Military Service Drafted in 1942
Served with Counter Intelligence Corps Saw action at Utah Beach, Normandy on “D-Day,” and at Battle of the Bulge Met and corresponded with Ernest Hemingway

7 Adult Life After war lived with parents in New York and associated with bohemians in Greenwich Village By 1950 moved to Cornish, New Hampshire Married; fathered two children

8 Writing Career 35 stories, 1 novel, and 4 novellas
The Catcher in the Rye (1951) Reputation rests largely on this novel: It took 10 years to write Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories, Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction Many of his works revolve around a fictional family of geniuses

9 A Recluse and a Loner Did not publish any new work since 1960s
Deeply into Zen mysticism In 1965, Salinger further withdrew from society and put a 6-foot fence around his property Stopped communicating with outsiders In 1967 he stopped publishing and obtained a divorce Last interview in 1974 Died Jan. 27, 2010

10 The Catcher in the Rye Published in 1951
Initially reviewed as a “rare miracle of fiction” Generally received as a literary sensation Dissenting opinion gradually arose, in part due to use of profanity Banned and condemned by some communities and school boards – it was the 13th most frequently challenged book of the 1990s The action is not vital; the psychological state of narrator is much more important Book covers a time span of four days Principle setting is New York City, which plays such an important part that it can almost be considered another character in the story

11 Back Page Preview (1951) (Possibly written by Salinger)
The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices – but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

12 So Far: Chapters 1-6 Name three reasons why Stradlater annoys or upsets Holden (either Stradlater’s actions or characteristics). (3 points) What is the potential symbolic importance of Holden’s red hunting hat? (2 points) Allie’s baseball glove is one of the dominating symbols of the novel. What do we know about it so far? (2 points) How did Holden react when Allie died? (1 point) Name two things we know about Jane so far. (2 points) Name two things Holden does – one for Stradlater, one for Ackley – that shows he is a more decent person than his cynical veneer indicates. (2 points)

13 Thoughts: Chapters 1-6 Themes and motifs
We will frame our reading and discussion within the following themes, motifs, etc: Alienation as a form of self-protection The pain of growing up Phoniness Relationships, sexuality Loneliness Symbols

14 Thoughts: Chapters 1-6 Alienation as a form of self-protection
It’s ironic that Holden doesn’t turn the microscope on himself (introspection): He may see that he and Ackley have much in common. Pencey is not a healthy environment for Holden: Stradlater completely disses Holden’s essay about Allie’s baseball glove then later beats Holden up. Ackley is insensitive to Holden’s needs.

15 Thoughts: Chapters 1-6 Pain of growing up
Holden seems to fear growing older. Remember his physical description of Spencer. Allie’s death weighs on Holden more than Holden lets on. Holden’s reaction to Allie’s death was violent and extreme: He smashed out the windows in the garage. He didn’t attend the funeral because he was hospitalized. (Holden also instantly recalls the exact day Allie died.) Holden obviously revered his little brother, who sounds intelligent and unique. He kept Allie’s glove and took it to school with him.

16 Thoughts: Chapters 1-6 Phoniness
Holden hates “phonies.” He thinks D.B. has prostituted himself in Hollywood; he hates movies (although he apparently has seen a lot of them); Pencey seems populated by the very phonies Holden suppposedly despises, from the teachers to Stradlater. Yet, Holden’s kindness toward these people shows through when he talks Brossard into letting Ackley come to the movies with them, and Holden agrees to write Stradlater’s essay for him.

17 Thoughts: Chapters 1-6 Relationships, sexuality
Jane obviously means a lot to Holden. He gets really nervous thinking that Stradlater (who doesn’t even get her name right) might make a move on her in the back seat of a car. (Remember, Stradlater seems to be pretty experienced at such things: He’s a “sexy guy.”)

18 Thoughts: Chapters 1-6 Loneliness
That Holden seeks Ackley’s company before Holden leaves Pencey shows how desperate Holden is for companionship.

19 Thoughts: Chapters 1-6 Symbols
Holden’s red hunting hat: He pretends he doesn’t care what people think of his appearance (although there seems to be some insecurity over his height, weight, and gray hair), but he takes it off when he wants to downplay his uniqueness (at the football game; Spencer’s, etc.) Allie’s baseball mitt: It’s left-handed, making it somewhat unique, like Allie. Holden keeps the glove to himself (although he shows it to Jane) – a symbol of innocence and childhood (in turn, represented by Allie).

20 Mini-Socratic Seminar
Prepare answers for, and be ready to discuss, the following questions in large group. Answers must be typed; about a long paragraph each – a pregnant paragraph, if you will.

21 Mini-Socratic Seminar
QUESTION 1 The book was written more than a half a century ago. Yet, many feel that it reflects contemporary adolescents’ feelings and experiences. What is timeless and universal about the novel? What can you specifically relate to in the book? Not relate to at all? QUESTION 2 Is Holden a sympathetic character? If he were a student at WHS, would you be his friend? Why or why not? QUESTION 3 Holden dislikes much about people, his life, and the world. But what does he like or see as good in the world? Does the book end on an optimistic note?

22 Chapters 7-12: Thoughts Phoniness
Holden is very annoyed with Ackley’s phoniness. Yet, Holden tells extravagant lies to Mrs. Morrow about her son Ernie; he uses a fake name; and even claims to be leaving Pencey because of a brain tumor. This constant lying is evidence of immaturity and even imbalance, but are his intentions cruel, kind, or simply careless? Holden constantly berates movies as phony, but he clearly has seen a lot of them.

23 Chapters 7-12: Thoughts Loneliness
On his way to New York, Holden wants to call someone but can’t think of anyone: D.B. is in Hollywood; he “doesn’t feel like” calling Jane; and Sally Hayes’s mom hates Holden. He keeps mentioning though that he wants to call Phoebe, who sounds a lot like Allie: red hair; unusually clever for her young age; humorous (She writes fictional stories about “Hazle Weatherfield,” whose last name she adopts as her middle name.) Phoebe is Holden’s soul mate

24 Chapters 7-12: Thoughts Even though it’s late when Holden gets to his hotel room, he is almost on a desperate mission for human interaction, from Faith Cavendish, to the girls at the Lavender Lounge, to even the cab drivers. Note Holden’s slip with the first cabbie: He gives the cabbie his home address. This may indicate Holden’s subconscious yearning for home.

25 Chapters 7-12: Thoughts Pain of growing up
Holden keeps asking where the ducks go in winter. This may be his way of expressing fear and sadness that the ducks are there one day, gone the next – just like Allie. He may need reassurance that they (and Allie) are OK, wherever they are. More likely, he may be subconsciously wondering where is he going to go? Who is going to take care of him?

26 Chapters 7-12: Thoughts Symbols: The red hat revisited
Uniqueness and individuality. He is very self-conscious about it. He mentions it every time he wears it, and often does not wear it if he is going to be around people he knows. This mirrors Holden’s need for isolation versus his need for companionship. The hat connects him to Allie (and Phoebe)

27 Chapters 7-12: Thoughts Writing structure
Salinger cleverly structures the narrative to signal there is more to the story than Holden lets on, all of which contributes to Holden’s decreasing mental stability. Holden never seems particularly concerned about his own behavior. He often seems angry but rarely discusses his feelings. What emerges, however, is the desperation, pressure, and trauma he endures during this difficult time in his life.

28 Chapters 7-12: Thoughts He never mentions himself. He avoids introspection and reflection on his own shortcomings and problems by focusing on the world around him, usually critically. However, his focus on other people reveals the extent to which he longs for companionship, love, and compassion. After her stepfather’s intrusion, Jane is overwhelmed by a pain she cannot articulate. This is similar to Holden’s situation. He is struggling with pain he can’t talk about with anyone in the book.

29 Chapters 7-12: Thoughts Sexuality
What Holden sees through his window at the Edmont Hotel both confuses and excites him. So he calls Faith Cavendish, a promiscuous girl recommended to him by a former classmate. On the other hand, Holden thinks people should only have sex if they care deeply about one another, and the “crumby” behavior he sees seems disrespectful (although on some level, he seems to like it). What bothers him is his perception that sexual attraction can be separate from respect and intimacy, and that sex can be kinky. He meets the three older women in the Lavender Room, who depress him for being enamored with fame and famous people. His flirting is comical and ultimately humiliating for him. “Sex is something I don’t understand. I swear to God I don’t.”

30 Chapters 7-12: Thoughts He clearly also has affection for Jane Gallagher: the only person outside of his family that he has shown Allie’s glove to. He loves her idiosyncrasies: golfing with her eyes closed; moving her mouth in all directions when she speaks; keeping her kings in the back row. Jane is an example of Holden’s devotion to those he sees as innocent; he can’t protect her from the Stradlaters of the world, and it frustrates him. Their physical relationship was mild: Holden was completely enthralled when they merely held hands and when Jane put her hand on the back of his neck.

31 Chapters 13-15: Thoughts Relationships, sexuality
Sunny represents another attempt at female companionship, but this can only be superficial, sexual, and devoid of emotion. This represents his conflict: something he needs but fears. This is also seen in Sally Hayes, who is conventional, superficial, and phony, but to whom Holden is drawn for her looks. Clearly afraid of the adult world, Holden shies away from intimacy and is scared of his emerging sexuality.

32 Chapters 13-15: Thoughts Alienation
Holden’s encounter with Sunny: In addition to his moral refusal to go through with it, he is also depressed about her age, which is very close to his. He hates the thought of the store clerk who sold her the dress doing so in the ignorance that she is a typical teenage girl buying a new dress, when it really is her uniform. He emerges from this scene more wounded and hurt than he was before. This encounter also reaffirms his understanding of a cruel and senseless adult world. So he takes refuge in isolation, which only deepens his alienation and loneliness.

33 Chapters 13-15: Thoughts Interesting note: J.D. Salinger at one time sold one of his short stories to be made into a Hollywood film, which he hated and regretted, which may be why Holden refers to D.B. as a “prostitute” who sold out his writing art. When Salinger was a boy, his nickname was “Sonny.” Could the homonym “Sunny” come from this notion of prostitution?

34 Chapters 13-15: Thoughts Loneliness
At this point in the novel, it’s clear that loneliness is at the heart of Holden’s problems. He is on an almost manic quest for interaction. He is aching for Jane, who represents the type of companionship he wants. Their moments of intimacy were subtle, innocent, and extremely personal. Holden’s worldview is to see childhood as innocent and good; adulthood as superficial and evil. He rationalizes his loneliness by pretending that every adult around him is phony and annoying. The incident with the nuns surprises Holden because these adults don’t fit into his worldview of adults. They are kind, intelligent, and sympathetic.

35 Chapters 13-15: Thoughts But his interaction with Sunny also shows that he is what might be called a “good kid.” He doesn’t go through with it. He always stops when a girl says “no.” He has to get to know a girl before he gets intimate with her.

36 Chapters 13-15: Thoughts Phoniness
Lillian Simmons and the Navy guy: perfect examples of Holden’s phoniness criticism. Holden has a hard time praying to Jesus, whom he likes. He is bothered by how the Disciples let Jesus down, indicating the importance of friendship and loyalty to Holden. Holden’s other favorite Biblical character is “that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones.” That man’s name is Legion, who is a troubled soul who resists being tamed, much like Holden.

37 Chapters 16-19: Thoughts Symbols
The little boy singing “If a body catch a body, coming through the rye.” The boy is walking on the street, not the sidewalk; is singing “just for the hell of it”; and seems oblivious to the traffic around him. Holden loves it – how this boy seems so unique, carefree, and unconcerned with the world.

38 Chapters 16-19: Thoughts Symbols
But Holden mis-hears the words to “Comin’ Thro the Rye,” a poem by 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns. Let’s look at it, shall we? All versions of the song ask: Is it wrong to “kiss” and “greet” someone you are attracted to if you meet them, even if you don’t tell the rest of the world about it and you aren’t committed to that person? In other words, the poem seems to ask if casual sex, in the sense of sex without commitment, is wrong. Casual sex is exactly the type that Holden finds so upsetting.

39 Chapters 16-19: Thoughts Holden might subconsciously change the words from “if a body meet a body” to “if a body catch a body” because of Holden’s confusion over sex. More on this crucial metaphor later.

40 Chapters 16-19: Thoughts Other Symbols
“Little Shirley Beans”: Holden sees it as authentic, song by an R&B singer “very Dixieland and whorehouse,” rather than a white girl who would make it sound “cute as hell.” Estelle Fletcher = Ella Fitzgerald? The museum: “The best thing though in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was…Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different is you.”

41 Chapters 16-19: Thoughts Symbols
Phoebe would see the same things Holden saw when he was a kid, and he wonders how she’d be different every time she saw it. “Certain things should just stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.” In the end, Holden refuses to go into the museum.

42 Chapters 16-19: Thoughts Phoniness
For someone who dislikes phonies so much, Holden certainly attracts his share. Luce, if he was as perceptible as he pretends to be, would find Holden’s confused feelings admirable in regard to having to like a girl a lot in order to be intimate with her. Holden seems to demonstrate a strain of homophobia at the Wicker Bar: already uncomfortable with his own sexuality, he seems really uncomfortable with homosexuals, or “flits.” He is afraid that, as Luce told him, that homosexuality can just “happen” overnight. Despite Holden’s suspicion that Luce himself is a bit “flitty,” Holden still reaches out to him for guidance into adult sexuality, but this connection, too, fails.

43 Chapters 16-19: Thoughts Sexuality
Sally is an odd match for Holden. She is neither spontaneous nor sensitive, but rather conventional and somewhat of a social climber. Salinger drops hints that the story behind Holden’s narration is more troubling than it appears: “I swear to God, I’m a madman.” Holden’s mood swings with Sally indicate this: At first he’s in love with her, which then alternates between rapture and annoyance, culminating with the “royal pain in the ass” blast.

44 Chapters 16-19: Thoughts Sally’s coldness and lack of compassion are reflective of the greater world’s lack of concern about Holden’s plight. Sally is not interested in all with Holden’s wild proposals, which show how ill-equipped he is to deal with the real world. Holden’s behavior during their date is the surest sign yet that Holden is heading for emotional collapse.

45 Chapters 16-19: Thoughts Miscellaneous
The Lunts were a real-life, famous acting couple on Broadway. Why do you think that it’s ironic that Holden likes The Great Gatsby? Jay Gatsby might be the biggest phony of them all. That said, the similarities between the two novels are striking.

46 Lit Circles

47 Lit Circles Gatsby Catcher First-person narrator: Holden
“Old Phoebe” “Old Ackley” “Old Sally” Holden puts Jane on a pedestal Holden refuses to accept change Novel set in New York City Stradlater: handsome, athletic, insensitive Holden sees Stradlater as rival for Jane’s affection First-person narrator: Nick “Old sport” Gatsby puts Daisy on a pedestal Gatsby refuses to accept change. Novel set in and around New York City Tom Buchanan: handsome, athletic insensitive Gatsby sees Tom as rival for Daisy’s affection

48 Chapters 20-23: Thoughts Alienation
By this point, Holden’s free fall is well underway. After his disastrous date with Sally, he calls her in a drunken stupor; wanders down to the lagoon in the freezing cold; and skips his dwindling coins across the water.

49 Chapters 20-23: Thoughts Loneliness
Memories of Allie continue to haunt Holden. He doesn’t think it would be so bad if Allie wasn’t in that crazy cemetery surrounded by tombstones and dead people. It makes him confront his own mortality. Phoebe’s significance is huge: Holden confides in her, shares his dreams, and even argues with her. She is his most trusted connection. Phoebe is bright, articulate, and imaginative. Although she is six years younger, she seems to have it together much more than Holden.

50 Chapters 20-23: Thoughts Holden watching Phoebe sleep and Holden reading her notebooks represent the few moments where he can escape the brutality of the outside world. Her elephant pajamas, her excitement over the lead role in the play, and her compassion all symbolize how Holden values the innocence and authenticity of childhood. The broken record pieces: emblematic of Holden’s own shattered psyche. When Phoebe generously offers Holden her Christmas money, he breaks into tears.

51 Chapters 20-23: Thoughts Emotional instability
Chapter 22 is crucial: Holden tells Phoebe he would like to be the catcher in the rye. The rye field is a symbol of childhood: the rye is so high that the children cannot see over it. The cliff is the precipice of adulthood: Holden wants to protect childhood innocence from the fall into disillusionment that comes with adulthood. Holden wants to save children from going over that cliff; he wants to save the innocence missing in the world around him – a world that has let him fall over the cliff into adulthood alone.

52 Chapters 20-23: Thoughts Symbols
There is an interesting theory as to the state of the pond in the park, which is partly frozen and partly not. It is in a transitional state, just like Holden himself. Holden is neither child nor adult but somewhere in between.

53 “The Graduate”

54 “The Graduate” Ben Braddock is a 20-year-old (about to turn 21) college student; track star, awarding winning scholar; debate; cross country; newspaper editor. Yet, it all means little to him upon graduation.

55 “The Graduate” He is disenchanted with the wealth and trapping of his upbringing and his parents’ generation/values. His transformation from confused youth to young man begins with his affair with Mrs. Robinson, the wife of Ben’s father’s law partner. Yet, it’s immediately clear how empty the relationship is: built solely on physicality. “If you think I do this for any other reason than sheer boredom, you’re wrong.”

56 “The Graduate” Ben’s other important quotes:
“I’m sort of disturbed about things.” I don’t think of you that way … I’m mixed up.” “I’m just drifting” “I’ve had this feeling ever since I graduated; I have the compulsion to be rude all the time.”

57 “The Graduate” Important quotes continued:
“Plastics … There is a great future in plastics” (Mr. McGuire) “Is it just the things I stand for that you despise?” (Mr. Robinson)

58 “The Graduate” Other symbols
The fish tank: The world for Ben seems so confining. First visit to Taft Hotel: Stuck holding the door for two generations, neither of which he seems to fit in. Carl Smith: Represents the establishment Ben hates the thought of joining.

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