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‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger

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1 ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger

2 Opening The opening has the task of luring the reader into the story – capturing the reader’s interest To give info on setting (where, when, social context) Establish a mood/atmosphere etc. Give info/clues about the main character(s)

3 Opening of ‘Catcher’ - Does the opening of ‘Catcher’ fit the general purpose of a novel’s opening? - What do we learn, especially about the character Holden Caulfield? - What narrative and verbal techniques does Salinger use to get the reader ‘hooked’?

4 Some questions to help you think:
Chapter 1 Questions 1. Who is Holden Caulfield? 2. Who is D.B., and why is Holden somewhat contemptuous of him? 3.What does he say about his school? 4. Who is Selma Thurmer, and why did Holden like her?  what does it show about Holden’s character? 5. Who is Mr. Spencer, and why was Holden going to visit him? Why do you think did Mr Spencer wanted to see H. 6. What does Holden think about the other students who attend Pencey? 7. Does Holden blame others for his flunking out of school? Write short answers to those questions (bullet points are fine) and think how Holden is portrayed. Include quotes from the text if you can, so your answers are based on clear ‘evidence’

5 Chapter 2 1. Did Holden agree with Dr. Thurmer’s description of life as a game? Explain your answer. 2 Was Pencey Prep really the fourth school from which Holden was asked to leave? Explain your answer. 3. Why did Holden write Mr. Spencer a note at the end of his examination paper? 4. What was Holden thinking about while he said the following: “I told him I was a real moron, and all that stuff. I told him how I would’ve done exactly the same thing if I’d been in his place, and how most people didn’t appreciate how tough it is being a teacher.”  Why do you think Holden is concerned about the ducks during the winter (13)? (Hint: perhaps he feels an affinity with their situation?) 5. Holden told Mr. Spencer not to worry about him. What reason did he give for not worrying?

6 Chapter 3 and 4 1. How does Holden determine whether a book is outstanding? 2. Ackley: What does Ackley usually do when he comes to visit Holden? What does Holden find annoying about him? 3. Stradlater: Why does Ackley not like Stradlater? p. 21 What does Holden say in defense of Stradlater? 4. According to Holden, Ackley and Stradlater are both slobs. In what way are they different as slobs? 5. What favour does Stradlater ask of Holden?

7 “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” –Holden Caulfield Can you think of a book that inspired you so much that you felt you’d really like to have a conversation with him/her?

8 Chapter 5 and 6 1. Allie: What does Holden write about for Stradlater’s composition? p.33 2. Why did Allie have writing on his baseball mitt? 3. How did Allie die? How did Holden react to Allie’s death? p.34 4.Why is Holden so interested in what happened on Stradlater’s date?  What do we learn about Holden in those chapters?

9 What we learn about Holden:
In Ch 5 and 6 Holden shows that he tries to look past people’s faults, e.g. when he defends Stradlater when Ackley says he is a “conceited sonuvabitch” He doesn’t like ‘slobs’ and is concerned about manners that fit a private and privileged education which is sort of ironic as he tries to disassociate himself from this environment He is also concerned for Jane as he is convinced that Stradlater, the “sexy bastard”, is going to have sexual intercourse with Jane because he knows what Stradlater is like with dates. He knows Jane: feels protective of her; respects her innocence, conservative attitude and decency she displayed when she was close friends with Holden: “she liked to keep all her kings in the backrow” We also see that Holden, despite being physically weaker and beaten by Stradl., stands up for what he believes and does not give in. He is sensitive about Allie and he defends Jane (and his) honour but we also detect jealousy as he probably would have liked Jane as a date for himself. He makes clear that he despises non-genuine/non-honourable behaviour concerning girls and is prepared to ‘fight’ for his morals/beliefs, something we’ll see later on again when Maurice beats him

10 Chapter 7, 8 & 9 1. Why do you think Holden “was sort of crying” (p.46) when he left Pencey? 2. Mrs Morrow: Why does he lie to her about Ernest? What does he want her to think about Ernest’s personality? 3. What does he discuss with the cab driver on the way to Edmont Hotel? 4. What does Holden think about the people he observes from his Hotel window? What is opinion on ‘necking’ and sex? P Why do you think does Holden decide against calling Jane Gallagher? Who does he call instead and what is the primary reason for it? P.56/57

11 Chapter 10 & 11 What do we learn about Phoebe? How does Holden feel about her? p.60 “ I and Allie used to take her to the park with us, especially on Sundays.” p. 61 What impression do we get of Holden’s family in the past? 2. What does Holden think about the 3 girls he meets in the Lavender Room? p.62 3. What do we learn about Holden and Jane’s relationship in the past?

12 Chapter 12,13 & 14 What is the ‘theme’ of the first paragraph?
Holden asks Horwitz (the cab driver) about the ducks. What is Horwitz’s answer? Who does he meet at Ernie’s? Why does he leave the bar? p.78 Sunny: Explain what happened between Holden and Sunny? What is his excuse (official and inofficial) for not sleeping with her? P.86/87 Sunny and Maurice come back to Holden’s room? Interpret Holden’s resistance to give Maurice the $5. What does it say about him?

13 Chapter 15 & 16 Why does Holden not want to tell his mother that he was expelled? P.97 Who does he phone and organises a date with?p.95 Holden meets two nuns – why does he like them as well as feels sorry for them? What do we learn about Holden’s personality and upbringing?pp.97, 103 How does the little boy walking with his parents uplifts Holden’s spirit? p ( original song) According to Holden what is the best thing about the museum? Why does he think this way? P.108,109,110 (find quotes)

14 Chapter 17, 18 & 19 1.How does Holden feel about Sally? p.112, 113
2.What article of clothing does Holden associate with “Ivy League types”? p.114 3.Holden and Sally go ice-skating and have a conversation. What is Holden trying to convince her off? How does she respond? Holden gives a summary of the date at the end of the chapter (p.121) – what is he confused about and why? 4. What do we learn about D.B. and Holden’s thoughts on war? 5. Ch 19: Carl Luce: Who is he? How does the conversation between the two go in the Seton Hotel Bar? What was the main subject of their conversation? How does Holden come across to the reader? (contrast to Carl)  “When in hell are you going to grow up?”(C. to H.) p.131

15 Ivy League Ivy League is the name generally applied to eight universities (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale) that over the years have had common interests in scholarship as well as in athletics. Stanley Woodward, New York Herald Tribune sports writer, coined the phrase in the early thirties. In 1936 the undergraduate newspapers of these universities simultaneously ran an editorial advocating the formation of an “Ivy League” but the first move toward this end was not taken until In that year, the eight presidents entered into an agreement “ for the purpose of reaffirming their intention of continuing intercollegiate football in such a way as to maintain the values of the game, while keeping it in fitting proportion to the main purposes of academic life.”

16 Chapter 20 & 21 Holden gets drunk and pretends he’s the “only guy with a bullet in their guts” (p. 135). When in the story did we see a similar scene? What does it suggest about Holden? How does he feel leaving the Wicker bar? P.138 What does Holden imagine when he sits down by the lake? P.139 What motivates him to leave the lake and go home? P.140/141 Why does Phoebe get upset with H. at the end of chapter 21?

17 Chapter 22, 23 & 24 1.What is Holden’s response to Phoebe’s request to name one thing he likes? P.153/154 2. Who was James Castle and why does H. admire him? P. 153 3. What does H say is the “only thing I want to be”? P. 156  explain 4. Ch 23:Who is Mr. Antolini? P. 157 , 163 What advice does he give Holden? 5. What is the reason why Holden leaves Antolini’s apartment all of a sudden?

18 Antolini quotes: “The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”  Why do you think is this good advice to Holden?

19 More quotes by Antolini:
“I have a feeling that you’re riding for some kind of terrible, terrible fall.” p. 168 “you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there.” p.170 Academic education will “ begin to give you an idea of what size mind you have.” p. 171

20 Chapter 25 & 26 1. This Chapter tells us something about Holden’s decline, mentally and physically. What evidence can we find in this chapter for this? Think of possible reasons for it. (p. 177, 178, 180, 185) 2. Why do you think is Phoebe so determined to go away with Holden? 3. The carrousel: p.189 and 190 Holden watches Phoebe on the carousel. What epiphany (clarity of thought) has he got when he watches her on the carrousel? 4. chapter 26: Where is Holden? What do we learn about him?

21 “Catcher” as a coming-of age or ‘Bildungsroman’
Characteristics of a Bildungsroman: Protagonist grows from childhood to adulthood Protagonist got a reason to embark on their journey, away from family/home Process of maturation is long, involving repeated clashes between the protagonist’s needs/desires and the views and judgments enforced by an unbending social order.  Does this general description fit to ‘Catcher’? How might the novel slightly divert from the definition?

22 Tracing Holden’s ‘journey’
Pencey Prep: ………………. 

23 Symbolism (and BRIEF explanations)
The carrousel’s gold ring - = hope, dreams, challenges: part of growing up - Children have to take risks/need to grow up and adults must let them (even though loss of innocence) - need a goal in life and then trying to achieve it even if it’s hard, etc. 2. The Museum of Natural History - Reflects Holden’s desire for things to stay ‘frozen’/unchanging = represents ideal world for H (but: even displays change now and then), - Holden’s wish for the past to be constant – wish Allie was still alive; refusal to change/grow up 3. The ducks in the Central Park lagoon - Curiosity of youth - The ducks’ perseverance in the face of difficulty resonates with H (his own situation) - Ducks reprs.change that isn’t permanent but cyclical (=hope?) - Fear of things disappearing - Allie ‘disappeared’, desire for stability and the past to come back, hate for unpredictability/conflict half frozen lake reflects H’s state of mind/life (transition) Others: Allie’s baseball mitt, the red hunting hat, movies, prep school life

24 Themes (issues/main ideas the novel deals with)
The author shows us themes through: characters, their actions, relationships, dialogue, events, language, setting etc. Themes we can track throughout the novel: Death and coping with it  Allie’s death and H inability to come to terms with it creates the following themes/issues; H is haunted by Allie’s death, his tomb at the graveyard, memories 1. Painfulness of growing up (transition from childhood to adulthood) H resists: stepping out of the past into the future, progressing, leaving the past behind and becoming an adult; deals with confusion, doesn’t acknowledge his fears and that adulthood mystifies him, can’t let go of childhood (innocence, curiosity, honesty) 2. Alienation (as a form of self-protection) H feels he doesn’t belong into this world; isolation = proof that he is ‘better’ than most people around him; interaction with others confuse/overwhelm him; inability to form ‘normal’ relationships and relate to/understand people –outsider, non-conformist, doesn’t fit in; he doesn’t address his emotions or the source of his troubles; wants human contact/love but his wall of bitterness prevents this

25 Themes contd. 3. Romanticism vs Reality
H’s ideal world (relationships, past, future, H’s own innocence and longing for it/protecting it) in contrast with reality (“Life is a game”); feels his values are not understood by others 4. Phoniness of the adult world H’s view of the world and fear of becoming an adult; despises superficiality, hypocrisy, pretension, shallowness he sees around him – reason for him to withdraw/alienate himself from that world; for him the world is B&W but he himself is evidence for the grey areas

26 Task: Choose one of the themes and find relating incidences from the text as well as quotes and if applicable symbols or setting that illustrate the theme. Then: Go round the class to take down notes from the work of your peers for the other themes.


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