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People Never Notice Anything. Catcher In The Rye. I. About The Author. “I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.”. J.D. Salinger – 1919 – 2010 Drafted to WWII Fought on D-Day Was among first soldiers to enter a concentration camp Interrogated prisoners of war

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People Never Notice Anything

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People Never Notice Anything

Catcher In The Rye

I. About The Author

“I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.”

J.D. Salinger – 1919 – 2010

Drafted to WWII

Fought on D-Day

Was among first soldiers to enter a concentration camp

Interrogated prisoners of war

Emotionally scarred by time in war; hospitalized for PTSD

D. Wrote numerous short stories, became famous for Catcher in the Rye (his only novel)

E.Became a Buddhist and escaped fame, not writing another book after 1960

A Novel With A Tainted Legacy

John Lennon

Mark David Chapman

“Dear Holden Caulfield, From Holden Caulfield, This is my statement”

Reportedly, before shooting Lennon, Chapman visited NY and tried to re-enact scenes from the novel.

After shooting him, he sat near the scene of the crime and read the book until police arrested him.

II. Theme

  • Salinger reflects on the pain of growing up by presenting a protagonist disillusioned by the adult world.

    • All adults are “phonies.”

    • Phoebe’s innocence is Holden’s inspiration

  • Holden longs to be a “catcher in the rye,” protecting children from doom

Like this?

“I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going, I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” (225).

Ironically, Holden gets this idea from a song called “Comin’ Through The Rye” which is about sex – the ultimate loss of innocence!

Listen To This!

III. Salinger’s narrative explores the themes of disillusionment and lost innocence through use of symbolism.

  • Red Hat = Individuality

  • “Catcher in the Rye” = desire to protect innocence

  • Ducks, Eskimos, “Secret Goldfish” = fear of growing old

  • Wound = emotional scars

And Numerous Others

IV. Major Influences on Holden

  • Phoebe

    What does Phoebe represent for Holden?

  • Allie

    What effect does Allie’s fate have on Holden?

  • Mr. Antolini

    In one of the novel’s most controversial scenes, what does Mr. Antolini come to represent for Holden?

V. Elements of Modernism

  • Holden is a modernist hero

    • Events of his life defeat him, lead to a breakdown

    • He emerges having learned a lesson, more self-assured

    • He is fiercely individualistic and rejects society

  • Language is simple, direct, conversational

  • Reader is left with unanswered questions about Holden


Holden is sometimes overwhelmingly hopeful, at other times darkly pessimistic.

He wavers between irrational love and unrelenting abhorrence.

He doesn’t want to grow up and resents adults as “phonies” who don’t understand him.

What Does It Mean?

He is just like most American teenagers!

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