The Catcher in the Rye


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The majority of the novel takes place in December 1949. The story commences with Holden Caulfield describing encounters he has had with students and faculty of Pencey Prep in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. He criticizes them for being superficial, or, as he would say, "phony." After being expelled from the school for his poor academic performance, Holden packs up and leaves the school in the middle of the night after a physical altercation with his roommate. He takes a train to New York but does not want to return to his family and instead checks into the dilapidated Edmont Hotel. There, he spends an evening dancing with three tourist girls and has a clumsy encounter with a young prostitute named Sunny. His attitude toward the prostitute changes the minute she enters the room. Holden becomes uncomfortable with the situation, and when he tells her that all he wants to do is talk, she becomes annoyed with him and leaves. However, he still pays her for her time. Sunny and Maurice, her pimp, later return to Holden's hotel room and demand more money than was originally agreed upon. Despite the fact that Sunny takes five dollars from Holden's wallet, Maurice punches Holden in the stomach.
Holden calls up his old girlfriend, Sally Hayes, to invite her to see a musical. Sally very excitedly agrees, and they meet for the play. After the play Holden and Sally go skating, and while drinking coffee Holden impulsively invites Sally to run away with him, but she declines. Her response deflates Holden's mood, which prompts a remark: "You give me a royal pain in the ass, if you want to know the truth" , he tells her, regretting it immediately. Sally storms off as Holden follows, pleading with her to accept his apology. Finally, Holden gives up and leaves her there. Holden spends a total of three days in the city, and this time is characterized largely by drunkenness and loneliness. At one point he ends up at a museum, where he contrasts his life with the statues of Eskimos on display. For as long as he can remember, the statues have been unchanging. These concerns may have stemmed largely from the death of his brother, Allie. Eventually, he sneaks into his parents' apartment while they are away, to visit his younger sister, Phoebe, who is nearly the only person with whom he seems to be able to communicate. Phoebe views Holden as a hero, and she is naively unaware that Holden's view of her is virtually identical. Holden shares a fantasy he has been thinking about (based on a mishearing of Robert Burns' Comin' Through the Rye): he pictures himself as the sole guardian of numerous children running and playing in a huge rye field on the edge of a cliff. His job is to catch the children if they wander close to the brink - to be a "catcher in the rye." Because of this misinterpretation, Holden believes that to be a "catcher in the rye" means to save children from losing their innocence.
After leaving his parents' apartment, Holden drops by to see a former and much admired English teacher, Mr. Antolini, in the middle of the night, and is offered advice on life and a place to sleep. Mr. Antolini tells Holden that it is the mark of the mature man to live humbly for a cause, rather than die nobly for it. This is at odds with Holden's ideas of becoming a "catcher in the rye," a heroic figure who symbolically saves children from "falling off a crazy cliff" and being exposed to the evils of adulthood. During the speech on life, Mr. Antolini has a number of "highballs," referring to a cocktail served in a highball glass. Holden is upset when he wakes up in the night to find Mr. Antolini patting his head in a way that he perceives as "flitty." There is much speculation on whether Mr. Antolini was making a sexual advance on Holden, and it is left up to the reader to decide. Holden leaves and spends his last afternoon wandering the city. He later wonders if his interpretation of Mr. Antolini's actions was actually correct.
Holden makes the decision that he will head out west, and when he mentions these plans to his little sister, she decides she wants to go with him. Holden declines her offer and refuses to have her accompany him. This upsets Phoebe, so Holden does her a favor and decides not to leave after all. Holden tries to reverse her saddened mood by taking her to the Central Park Zoo. He realizes his mistake as she rides the carousel that lies within the zoo. While watching Phoebe, Holden realizes that he can’t be the “Catcher in the Rye" and that he is in need of help. At the conclusion of the novel, Holden decides not to mention much about the present day, finding it inconsequential. He alludes to "getting sick" and living in a mental hospital, and mentions that he'll be attending another school in September. Holden says that he has surprisingly found himself missing two of his former classmates, Stradlater and Ackley, and even Maurice, the elevator operator/pimp. The last words of the novel are, "Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

About the author: J.D Salinger

Writer. Born January 1, 1919 in New York City, New York, Jerome David Salinger, despite his slim body of work and reclusive lifestyle, was one of the more influential 2Oth century American writers. His landmark novel, Cather in the Rye, set a new course for literature in post World War II America and his short stories, many of which appeared inThe New Yorker, inspired the early careers of writers such as Phillip Roth, John Updike, and Harold Brodkey.
Salinger was the youngest of two children and only boy born to Sol Salinger, the son of a rabbi who ran a thriving cheese and ham import business, and his Scottish born wife Miriam. At a time when mixed marriages of this sort were looked at with disdain from all corners of society, Miriam's non-Jewish background was so well hidden that it was only after his bar mitzvah at the age of 14 that Salinger learned of his mother's roots.
Despite his apparent intelligence, Salinger, or Sonny as he was known as child, wasn't much of a student and after flunking out of the McBurney School near his home in New York's Upper West Side, was shipped off by his parents to Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
After graduating Valle Forge, Salinger returned to home for what proved to be only a year stay at New York University before heading off to Europe, flush with some cash and encouragement from his father to learn another language and bone up on the import business. But Salinger, who spent the bulk of his five months overseas in Vienna, paid closer attention to language than business.
Upon returning home, he made another attempt at college, this time at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, before coming back to New York and taking night classes at Columbia University. There, Salinger met a professor, Whit Burnett, who would change his life.
Burnett wasn't just a good teacher, he was also the editor of Story magazine, an influential publication that showcased short stories. Burnett, sensing Salinger's talent as a writer, pushed him to write and soon Salinger's work was appearing not just in Story, but in other big-name publications such as Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post. His career had started to take off, but then, like so many young American men around this time, World War II interrupted his life. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor attack, Salinger was drafted into the army, which he served with from 1942-1944. His short military career saw him land at Utah Beach in France during the Normandy Invasion and be a part of the action at the Battle of the Bulge.
During this time, however, Salinger continued to write, assembling chapters for a new novel whose main character was a deeply unsatisfied young man named Holden Caulfield. Salinger, however, did not escape the war without some trauma and when it ended, he was hospitalized after suffering a nervous breakdown. The details about Salinger's stay are shrouded in some mystery, but what is clear is that while undergoing care he met a woman named Sylvia, a German and possibly a former Nazi. The two married but their union was a short one, just eight months. He married a second time in 1955 to Claire Douglas, the daughter of a high profile British art critic, Robert Langdon Douglas. The couple were together for a little more than a decade and had two children together, Margaret and Matthew.

Sources:

Pictures:
http://www.scene-stealers.com/top-10s/top-10-things-the-catcher-in-the-rye-movie-should-do/-This website gave me a feel of what the book cover looked like.


Information:
http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/catcher/-I've never fully read the book, so I used this website to give me a summary of the book.
http://www.shmoop.com/catcher-in-the-rye/summary.html-This website was an excellent way to get a feel for the plot of the story.
http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/The-Catcher-in-the-Rye.id-53.html-This website was the icing on the cake for this page. I used it to get information on the book and it's author.

By:Tehetna Gebreamanuel