The Catcher in the Rye Author: J.D. Salinger Published: 1951
Jerome David (J.D.) Salinger • 1919-2010 • Served in WWII • Literary recluse - rarely granted interviews, none after 1980 • Wrote several short stories and books about young adults and the process of growing up • The Catcher in the Rye = most famous and notorious work Introduction
The Catcher in the Rye: Stats • published in 1951 • has sold over 65 million copies worldwide • was popular with college students before literary critics found merit in it • Time Magazine named it one of the best novels of 20th century • frequently challenged and banned in libraries and schools because of talk of sex and excessive bad language Introduction
The Catcher in the Rye: Why we picked it • Holden is (arguably) a near perfect sketch of an American teenager - one that still holds true today. • You will see bits of yourself or your friends in Holden. (I dare you not to.) Introduction
Characters • Holden Caulfield, age 16 • D.B. - Holden's older brother who is a "sellout" Hollywood writer • Allie - Holden's younger brother who died previous year of leukemia • Phoebe - Holden's innocent but wise younger sister • Stradlater and Ackley - classmates who act as foils for Holden • Jane and Sally - girls Holden has dated or is interested in dating Introduction
Point of View and Author Style • First-person Limited - we only see Holden's point of view (key question: is he a reliable narrator?) • Stream of Consciousness - the book sounds like the stream of thoughts running through your head • Dialect - Salinger replicates the dialect of a teenage boy • the language is controversial, but this makes it more believable Introduction
Setting • Pencey Prep: Holden’s boarding school • New York City: a little bit of everything Introduction
Basic Plot: What to Expect • Holden has been expelled from his private high school • Instead of going straight home, he detours through NYC, trying his hand at being an adult • Events and issues include: school, teachers, music, sex, alcohol, hypocrisy, family, being a teenager, and growing up Introduction
Symbols to look for… • Carousel • Red hunting cap • Baseball • Allie's Catcher's mitt • Ducks in Central Park Pond • Museum of Natural History • Pencey Prep • The catcher in the rye Introduction
Themes to watch… • Holden’s Journey through young adulthood: growing up and what that means, including: • Loss of Innocence - bildungsroman • Struggle for Identity • Disgust with Adult Hypocrisy (the phony people) • Alienation as a Form of Protection, including: • Anger as a Shield Against Pain • Confrontation of Fear • Confusion surrounding Love and Sexuality, including: • Elusion of Love • Fear of Intimacy and Homosexuality • Guilt Introduction
Quick Writing: Respond • Put yourself into Holden’s shoes. What would you do if you were expelled from school, had a little money to spend, and knew that your parents would not expect you home for two days? • Please keep your responses school appropriate. ( Even though Holden doesn't...I don't want to have to report you!) O_0 Introduction
Activity 1: Characterization Terminology Review: • Protagonist • Antagonist • Dynamic • Static • Stereotype • External Conflict • Internal Conflict • Foil The main character (not always the “good guy”) The character working against the main character Changing, growing personality Unchanging personality, doesn’t learn anything Going along with common impressions or expectations Man vs: Man/Machine, Society, Nature/Animal, Fate/Destiny Man vs Self (making moral decisions) Character who provides direct contrast to another character
Activity 1: Characterization Instructions: Complete each section of the character analysis sheet for Holden. Complete each section of the worksheet on foils, regarding Ackley and Stradlater. You may work in pairs, but each person must turn in a paper.
Activity 2: Author Style Stream of Consciousness • narration which follows the unedited thoughts of the speaker • usually seems jumbled, but relies on association of thoughts and ideas • look at the ideas right before and right after a passage to discover how the narrator arrived at the topic – what reminded him of his current thought? • This style often seems immature – why might Salinger have used it anyways? Other Examples from Literature • James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac
Activity 2: Author Style Narrator and Reliability • First person: uses I: “I walked down the hallway and waved to my friend.” • Second person: uses you: “So you are walking down the hallway, and you see one of your friends.” • Third person: uses she or he: “She walked the hallway, searching for a familiar face.” Reliability • Can you trust the narrator’s perception of people and events? • Is the narrator honest with himself and others?
Activity 2: Author Style Dialect • Local language: coke, pop, soda • Slang: text speak, age-related language • Cursing: mild to extreme Consider • Does the dialect show setting, including place and time period? • Does it show characterization? • Is it realistic?
Activity 2: Author Style Instructions: On your own, complete the worksheet on stream of consciousness, using your book as needed. When I tell you to form groups, discuss whether Holden is a reliable narrator, and whether the dialect sounds like a real teenager. Provide at least four points to each argument, with quotes from the book to back up your opinions.
Activity 3: Symbolism Symbols: • Visual representations of words or ideas • Some have the same meaning for the majority of people • But others can mean different things for different people
Activity 3: Symbolism Instructions: Complete the chart for each symbol, including a physical description from the book, and your own explanation of what the symbol means to the book. With a partner, discuss which symbols might be most important to the work.
Activity 4: Theme • The Hero’s Journey by gloveandboots • What is Holden’s quest? What is he searching for? • The innocence of childhood • Holden wants everything to stay the same as when he was younger – he isn’t ready to grow up. • The elusion of love • Holden is dying for someone to love him – parents, friends, girlfriends, prostitutes. He finally settles on imaginary children. • The struggle for identity (bildungsroman) • Holden doesn’t yet know who he wants to be – he looks at everyone as phony, but he’s not sure how to avoid that himself.
Activity 4: Theme Instructions: With a partner, complete the worksheet on theme. Be sure to check the book carefully for quotations: this is also a good way to review the plot of the book. Extra credit: on a separate paper, choose one of the themes and discuss how it applies to your life. Use specific examples. 2-3 paragraphs.