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Click on the book for Library Thing.

What I like best is a book that's at least funny once in a while...What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all 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. That doesn't happen much, though.

J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield





Go to 7:35 to see the allusion to Salinger.

Louis Menand wrote an article for The New Yorker in 2001 about Catcher's place in American literature.
Download it here.


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Click on Salinger's letter to read more about why he did not want The Catcher in the Rye to be made into a movie.

Catcher Links

Catcher Index

Blog Assignment #1

Answer the following question in your blog. Be careful to consider the author's purpose as well as symbolism and character formation when answering.
QUESTION: What is the significance of the ducks in the Central Park Lagoon? Be prepared to read your answer aloud to the class.


Chapter Questions (adapted from: teachers.ausd.net/classlink/getfile.ausd?fileid=62031)

Chapter 1

1. What does Holden say he won't tell the reader about himself? Why doesn't he want to discuss these things?
2. What is Holden going to tell about himself?
3. Where is Holden?
4. According to Holden, is Pencey Prep everything it is advertised to be?
5. In what ways does Holden not seem to conform to the expectations of the Pencey student?
6. Why wasn't Holden at the football game?
7. Why was Holden getting kicked out of school? How does he feel about that fact? What do you think Holden's intellectual ability is?
8. What do we learn about Holden judging from his conversation with Mrs. Spencer?
9. In Huckleberry Finn, the opening chapter sets the stage for the rest of the novel. If this premise is true of Catcher in the Rye, what aspects of the chapter are likely to be important?
10. In what way is Holden's speech realistic of teenage boys?

Chapter 2

1. What does Holden admire and dislike about Mr. Spencer? Why does he think about Mr. Spencer so much?
2. What is depressing about this visit to Mr. Spencer?
3. Why could we say that Holden is an observant boy?
4. How does Holden's view of the game of life differ from the view shared by Dr. Thurmer and Mr. Spencer? Who is right?
5. Why does Holden get bored when people tell him to act his age?
6. Based upon your own experiences, is Mr. Spencer a good or a bad teacher? Why?
7. What does Holden think of as he is talking with Mr. Spencer?
8. What causes the communication gap between Holden and Mr. Spencer?
9. How do you think Holden really feels about being expelled from Pencey? Is he as matter-of-fact about it as he appears to be in this chapter?

Chapter 3

1. In what way does the chapter support Holden's statement that he is "the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life"? Do you think he lies that much? Do you think most boys his age lie to the same extent?
2. How does Holden feel about Ossenburger? Why?
3. What is wrong with Holden's statement, "I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot"?
4. According to Holden, what makes a book successful?
5. In what ways is Ackley a "peculiar guy"?
6. How do Ackley's and Holden's views of Stradlater differ?

Chapter 4

1. What are some of the various ways Holden amuses himself? What do these activities show about him?
2. What sort of details does Holden remember about Jane Gallagher? What do these details tell about their relationship?
3. Why doesn't Holden go down to the annex and say hello to Jane Gallagher?
4. Why does Holden get so upset about Stradlater dating Jane?
5. Why was Holden glad to see Ackley after Stradlater left?

Chapter 5

1. According to Holden, why did they always have steak on Saturday nights?
2. What does his asking Ackley to go to the movies show about Holden?
3. What does Holden say was so likable about his brother Allie?
4. What does Holden's reaction to Allie's death tell us about Holden?

Chapter 6

1. In what ways is Stradlater's statement, "You don't do one damn thing the way you're supposed to," an accurate assessment of Holden?
2. Why does Holden get so angry at Stradlater? Is his anger justitified or is he overreacting? Why?
3. Is Holden's evaluation of Stradlater in this chapter a fair one? Why?

Chapter 7

1. In what ways does Ackley fail Holden as a friend after Holden's fight with Stradlater?
2. What causes Holden to leave Pencey that night?
3. Why doesn't Holden want to go straight home?

Chapter 8

1. How is this trip on the train different from usual? Why?
2. Why is Mrs. Morrow so fascinated by the comments Holden makes to her about Pencey and her son?
3. In what ways do Holden's and Mrs. Morrow's views of Ernest differ?
4. What does Holden mean when he says, "Mothers are all slightly insane"? In what way could this be true about your mother?
5. What does Holden like about Mrs. Morrow?
6. Why was he glad he had lied about Ernie?



Chapter 9

1. Who does Holden consider calling from Penn Station? Why doesn't he call each of them?
2. What does Holden's question about the ducks reveal about his character?
3. What are Holden's sexual attitudes?
4. Why can't Holden make a connection with Faith Cavendish?

Chapter 10

1. What does Holden like about his sister Phoebe?
2. How does Holden think he compares to his brothers and sister?
3. What do we learn about Holden from his encounter with the three girls from Seattle?
4. What do you think the girls thought of him?

Chapter 11

1. Explain Holden's reaction to Jane? What about her made Holden think she was a very special girl?

Chapter 12

1. Why is Holden's conversation with Horwitz unsatisfactory? Why do you think Horwitz gets so annoyed?
2. Why wasn't Holden impressed by Ernie?
3. What does Holden think about the crowd listening to Ernie? Why does he say they are morons? What do you think adulation does to an entertainer?
4. When he gets to his table, why does Holden say he is "surrounded by jerks"?
5. What about Lillian makes people dislike her? How does she ruin the evening for him?

Chapter 13

1. Is Holden "yellow" as he claims? Why is "a funny kind of yellowness"?
2. Looking at this chapter and the other chapters of the novel you have read so far, what kinds of things cause Holden to frequently fell depressed?
3. How does Holden normally behave with girls?
4. Why does Holden feel more depressed than sexy? What is so depressing to him? What does this show about Holden's character?





Chapter 14

1. What does Holden keep thinking about when he gets depressed? Why does he think of this particular incident?
2. How does Holden feel about the disciples? About ministers? Why?
3. Why wouldn't Holden give Maurice the rest of the money?
4. After Maurie hits Holden. Holden says he's crazy. Why?
5. Why does Holden contemplate suicide? Why doesn't he do it? What does that tell us about Holden?

Chapter 15

1. What does Holden thin of Sally Hayes? Considering his view of her, why does he call her instead of Jane or Phoebe?
2. By this point in the novel, what do we know about Holden's socio-economic level? What does his father do? What kind of up-bringing has he has? What kind of social life does his family have? What kind of people do they know?
3. How does Holden regard money?
4. What do suitcases symbolize for Holden? Why do some suitcases disturb him?
5. What does bourgeois mean? How does it apply to Holden?
6. How does Holden treat the nuns? Why is Holden glad the nuns didn't ask him if he was a Catholic?

Chapter 16

1. Why does Holden keep thinking about the nuns? Why did they make such a big impression on him? Why couldn't he see his aunt of Sally Hayes's mother doing what the nuns did for charity?
2. What does Holden notice about the little kid walking in front of him? What is the child singing?
3. What bothers Holden about the people he sees on Broadway?
4. Holden frequently says he has to be in the mood to do certain things such as asking Jane's mother when she will be home for school. What other things do you remember he has to be in the mood to do?
5. Why does Holden buy tickets to a play he doesn't want to see? What does that show us about Holden?
6. Why does Holden hate actors? How does his feelings about actors compare to his attitude about Ernie, the piano player?
7. What pleases Holden about the little girl he meets at the park? How does he help her? What does this tell us about Holden's character?
8. What fond memories does Holden have about the Indian museum? According to Holden, what was the best part of the museum? What is the only thing that would be different? What doesn't Holden want to go inside when he finally gets there?

Chapter 17

1. What thoughts go through Holden's mind about girls while he is waiting for Sally?
2. What conclusion does Holden reach about bores?
3. Why does Holden tell Sally he loves her?
4. How are Holden's comments about the play and the Lunts contradictory? What does that say about Holden?
5. Why doesn't Sally understand what Holding is saying to her at the ice rink?
6. Judging from his conversation with Sally, what does Holden get out of school?
7. What idea does Holden get? What is Sally's reaction to Holden's idea? What does her reaction reveal about Sally's personality? Her sensitivity towards Holden?
8. Is Holden screaming at Sally? What doesn’t he think so?
9. Why would it be different if Holden and Sally waited to do the things Holden is suggesting they do now? Is he right? Why?
10. What mistakes does Holden say he made on the date? Why does he mean it when he asks Sally to go with him even though later he knows she wouldn't have been anybody to go with?

Chapter 18

1. How do Jane and Holden's views of Al Pike differ? What is Holden's explanation for this difference in opinion?
2. Why did Holden call Carl Luce?
3. What didn’t Holden like about going to the movies at Radio City?
4. Why isn’t the woman who cries at the movies kind hearted? What comment about society is Holden making?
5. What does Holden think about going to war?

Chapter 19

1. Why does Holden dislike the Wicker Bar? What similarities do you find between it and the other places he dislikes?
2. What kind of student advisor do you think Carl Luce was? Why?
3. Why does Holden annoy Luce? Is his annoyance justified? Why?
4. Why is the meeting between Holden and Luce unsuccessful?

Chapter 20

1. What does Holden do when he is drunk?
2. Why does he call Sally rather than Jane when he is drunk?
3. How does Holden view his death? What doesn’t he like about the treatment of the dead?
4. Why doesn’t Holden like to go to Allie's gave? Why couldn’t he stand it when it rained? Why could we say Holden is still having difficulty dealing with his brother's death?
5. Why does Holden decided to go home?

Chapter 21

1. What precautions does Holden take not to be discovered?
2. What is his relationship with Phoebe like?
3. Why does Phoebe react so violently when he realizes Holden has been kicked out of another school?

Chapter 22

1. In what ways does Phoebe show Holden she disapproves of him?
2. Holden's explanation to Phoebe about his expulsion gives the reader what new insight/information about Holden's school failure?
3. In what way is Phoebe's discussion with Holden (beginning on page 168) mature and adult-like?
4. What are the three things Holden tells Phoebe "he really likes"? What do these reveal about Holden?
5. What does Holden want to be? Why doesn’t he want to be a lawyer like his father?
6. What does Holden mean when he says he wants to be the "catcher in the rye"?
7. Who is more in touch with reality, Holden or Phoebe? Why?
8. Why was James Castle important to Holden?

Chapter 23

1. Why does Holden consider Mr. Antolini the best teacher he has ever had?
2. Why does Holden start to cry? Why does it take him such "a long, long time" to stop?
3. Why does he give Phoebe his hate? In what way could this gesture be considered symbolic?

Chapter 24

1. How does Mr. Antolini treat Holden when he arrives?
2. Why did Holden flunk Oral Expression? Why did Holden like digressions?
3. What does his description of Richard Kinsella and his trouble in Oral Expression reveal about Holden? Why did he think the other boys should have left Richard alone?
4. What does Holden mean when he says, "You didn’t know this guy, Mr. Vinson. I mean he was very intelligent and all, but you could tell he didn’t have too much brains"?
5. Why is it significant that Mr. Antolini has lunch with Mr. Caulfield?
6. What does Holden say about the way he hated people? What does that reveal about Holden?
7. What does Mr. Antolini predict will happen to Holden? What quotation did he give Holden? What does the quotation mean? In what way could it apply to Holden?
8. Does Mr. Antolini's discussion of life make any sense to Holden or is he talking over his head? Does he know Holden's psychological state as well as he thinks he does? Defend your answer.
9. Why has Mr. Antolini chosen the wrong time to talk seriously with Holden?
10. Do you think Mr. Antolini was making a sexual pass at Holden? Why?

Chapter 25
1. How does Holden see the Antolini incident the next day?
2. What "spooky" thing happened to Holden while he is walking up Fifth Avenue?
3. What does Holden decide to do with his life? How realistic is his idea? Why doesn't he want to talk to anyone including his wife?
4. Why does Holden go to Phoebe's school? Why does Holden get so upset when he sees the obscenity written on the school wall? What is Holden's reaction when he sees these words again at the school and at the museum?
5. Why is Phoebe late in meeting Holden? Why does Holden talk unkindly to Phoebe? Why does he want to make her cry?
6. Why does Phoebe give Holden his hat back? Why won't she go back to school? Why won't she let him touch her? What is happening to their relationship?
7. Why and how is the gold ring symbolic? How does it relate to the rest of the novel and Holden's personal outlook?
8. What are some possible reasons why Holden changes his mind about running away?
9. Why is Holden so happy at the end of Chapter 25?

Chapter 26
1. In what ways does the last chapter tie in with the very beginning of the novel, the first page?
2. Besides the nuns, who are the five people Holden refers to in Chapter 26? What does this reveal?
3. Do you think Holden has a better understanding of himself after being in the sanitarium?

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