Literary Elements and Summer Reading The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Originally published in July 1951, The Catcher in the Rye was a book-of-the-month club selection and an immediate bestseller.
Where and when does the story take place? The action of the novel takes place in 1949 at two locations. The first seven chapters are set at Pencey Prep, a private school for boys in eastern Pennsylvania. Then Holden takes a train to New York City and the rest of the story takes place in Manhattan. Setting
Protagonist the leading character or a major character in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text In TCITR? Antagonist a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary In TCITR? Characters
competitive or opposing action: antagonistic state Person vs. Person Himself/Herself Society Nature God/supernatural/fate technology/machine Conflict
Person vs. society Person vs. himself What is the conflict in The Catcher in the Rye? Salinger used Valley Forge Military Academy as the model for Pencey Prep. Salinger himself was a WWII veteran who took part in D-Day. An alum, evidence suggests he actually enjoyed his time at Valley Forge and was a big fan of the military – until his service in WWII.
Who tells the story and how do they tell it? Narrative Voice Jerome David Salinger, b. New York City, Jan. 1, 1919 - January 27, 2010
1st Person “I” singular or “we” plural - from narrator’s point of view – biased/subjective 2nd Person “you” singular and plural - presentational/accusatory 3rd Person “he” “she” “it” singular or “they” plural – omniscient, all knowing, objective
Narrative voice in The Catcher in the Rye? Sep. 15, 1961
Stuff to pay attention to in all the literature we read this year… Themes Large issues that are central to the novel and/or play (example from TCITR?) Motifs reoccurring symbols or images that mean something deeper (example from TCITR?)
Exposition Rising Action Climax Falling Action Resolution Plot Structure (5 elements of a story)
Situational irony a discrepancy between an expected result and the actual result(s) Verbal irony when an author says one thing but means or implies another Irony (3 kinds)
Dramatic irony when an audience perceives something that a character in the literature is not aware of Irony in TCITR?
Holden Caulfield Protagonist Antagonist? Tells lies Having a nervous breakdown? Mr. & Mrs. Caulfield Holden’s parents (inattentive?) D.B. Caulfield Holden's older brother - used to be a "real writer" but now prostitutes himself in Hollywood. He wrote a book of short stories called The Secret Goldfish. Characters
Mr. Spencer Holden's history teacher at Pencey. In Chapter 2, Holden goes to his house for a goodbye visit. Mr. Spencer has the flu. He reads Holden's abominable essay answer about the Egyptians aloud. He questions Holden about his goals in life and his feelings about getting expelled from Pencey. Stradlater Holden's roommate at Pencey Ackley Holden's dirty next door dormmate at Pencey Fitzgerald ex-date of Stradlater - Stradlater refers to her as "that pig.”
Jane Gallagher Holden's great love and almost girlfriend.She and Holden used to play checkers and hold hands a lot – meaningful connection. Mr. Cadahy Jane Gallagher's "booze hound" step father. He was a "skinny guy with hairy legs.” A supposed playwright, he only drank, listened to mystery shows, and walked around at home with no clothes on. Holden thinks he abused Jane.
Allie Caulfield Holden's nice and brilliant red-headed brother - died of leukemia. Only friend in the world? Mrs. Morrow Sexy, 40 to 45-year old mother of Pencey classmate Ernest. She gets on the train at Trenton, leaves her bags in the aisle and sits next to Holden. She's wearing orchids. She notices the Pencey sticker on Holden's luggage and starts a conversation with him. After telling her some lies about how great Ernest is, Holden says he's going home early because he has to have a brain tumor removed.
Phoebe Caulfield Holden's smart and sweet kid sister Sally Hayes Holden's good looking ex. Holden calls her when he arrives in NYC – shallow connection. Mrs. Hayes Sally Hayes' mother She told Sally that Holden was "wild" and "had no direction.” Holden won't call Sally from Penn Station because Mrs. Hayes knows his mother.
Faith Cavendish Former burlesque stripper. She resides at the Stanford Arms Hotel on 65th and Broadway. She's supposed to be an easy date. Holden calls her, but she won't meet him because she says it's too late and her roommate's sick. She suggests meeting the next day, but Holden backs out. Marty, Laverne, Bernice Krebs Girls in the Lavender Room. These are moronic, giggling, movie-star-obsessed, out of towners. Bernice is dumb, blonde, relatively good looking, and a great dancer. The other two are ugly and Holden finds them uninteresting.
Lillian Simmons D.B.'s ex-girlfriend with very "big knockers." Holden runs into her and her date at the Wicker Bar. Two nuns Holden meets them at a diner. Gives them money – meaningful connection? Sunny Spooky prostitute Maurice Sunny's pimp and the elevator guy at the Edmont. He swindles Holden out of $5 and beats him up.
Little boy walking in street Sang "If a body catch a body..." Seeing and hearing him made Holden feel less depressed. Little girl in park Same age as Phoebe. Holden asked her if she knew Phoebe and helped her tighten her skates.
Mr. Antolini Holden's heavy-drinking ex-English teacher at Elkton Hills. Holden goes to Mr. Antolini's apartment to spend the night. Holden wakes up in the middle of the night to find Mr. Antolini petting him on the head. Holden finds it too "perverty" and quickly leaves. Lillian Antolini Mr. Antolini's wife. She's a lot older than Mr. Antolini. They "kiss a lot in public.”
Themes Alienation as Self-Protection: interactions with others overwhelm and confuse Holden, so his cynical sense of superiority serves as a type of self-protection, BUT alienation causes his pain. He is desperate for human contact and love. He is afraid of change, growing up, and maturing.
Painfulness of growing up: instead of acknowledging that adulthood scares him, he invents a fantasy that the adult world is superficial and hypocritical (phoniness). Childhood is innocence, curiosity, and honesty.
Phoniness of the Adult World: superficial, pretentious, shallow – not entirely inaccurate (insightful narrator) BUT Holden is phony too. He is a compulsive liar, deceitful, and cruel.
Holden’s red hunting hat One of the most recognizable symbols from twentieth-century American literature. A symbol of his uniqueness and individuality. It shows that Holden desires to be different from everyone. The hat mirrors the central conflict in the book: Holden’s need for isolation versus his need for companionship. Motifs/Symbols
The Museum of Natural History Holden tells us the symbolic meaning of the museum’s displays: they appeal to him because they are frozen and unchanging. The museum represents the world Holden wishes he could live in: a world where nothing ever changes.
Ducks in Central Park Lagoon The ducks are symbolic in several ways. Their perseverance in the face of an inhospitable environment resonates with Holden’s understanding of his own situation. In addition, the ducks prove that some vanishings are only temporary. Traumatized and made acutely aware of the fragility of life by his brother Allie’s death, Holden is terrified by the idea of change and disappearance. The ducks vanish every winter, but they return every spring.
The “Catcher in the Rye” First appears when a kid Holden admires for walking in the street rather than on the sidewalk is singing the Robert Burns song “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.” When Phoebe asks Holden what he wants to do with his life, he replies with his image, from the song, of a “catcher in the rye.” Holden imagines a field of rye perched high on a cliff, full of children romping and playing. He says he would like to protect the children from falling off the edge of the cliff by “catching” them. As Phoebe points out, Holden has misheard the lyric. He thinks the line is “If a body catch a body comin’ through the rye,” but the actual lyric is “If a body meet a body, coming through the rye.” The song “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye” asks if it is wrong for two people to have a romantic encounter out in the fields, away from the public eye, even if they don’t plan to have a commitment to one another. The word Holden substitutes for “meet” is “catch.” Holden wants to catch children before they fall out of innocence into knowledge of the adult world.
Censorship It seems that the mere effort of trying to censor something compels others to actively seek it out. Perhaps this is one aspect of Catcher's enduring success. Catcher is undoubtedly one of the most controversial literary works of all time. The American Library Association (ALA) reports that the novel holds the #10 spot as one of "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-1999".
According to the ALA and the University of Pennsylvania, these works have either been banned or have sparked some kind of continuing controversy in the United States. • Rudolfo Anaya: Bless Me, Ultima • George Eliot: Silas Marner • William Golding: Lord of the Flies • Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon • Martin Hanford: Where's Waldo? • Aldous Huxley: Brave New World • James Joyce: Ulysses • Madeline L'Engle: A Wrinkle in Time • D.H. Lawrence: Lady Chatterly's Lover • Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird • William Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice • Shel Silverstein: Where the Sidewalk Ends • John Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men • Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer • Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse Five • Alice Walker: The Color Purple