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The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger, 1945

4 Main Characters:

Holden Caulfield-  A young teenager who is kicked out of Pencey High because of several fails and a lack of motivation.  He avoids telling his parents of his failings and wanders the streets of New York.  He is confused, as well as opinionated.

Phoebe Caulfield-  The younger sister of Holden.  They have a good relationship, and she doesn't want him to live her.

Stradlater-  This good looking athlete is the room mate of Holden at Pencey High.  Holden finds him annoying.

Robert Ackley-  This is another student at Pencey that Holden finds extremely annoying.  Ackley is annoyed by everything, especially Stradlater.

2 Minor Characters:

D. B. Caulfield-  He is the older brother of Holden.  He lives in the West; Hollywood, California.  He is a writer.  Holden mentions him several times.

Jane Gallagher-  Stradlater goes on a date with her, and she used to be a friend of Holden.

3 Main Settings:

Pencey Prep-  This is the high school that Holden has just been kicked out of.  A few of the chapters take place here.

D.B.'s room-  After sneaking into his own house, Holden spends the night in his unoccupied brother's room.

The zoo-  At the zoo, Holden takes Phoebe to the carousel and feels the happiest he has felt in a long time.


 The books starts out with Holden Caulfield just having been kicked out of Pencey Prep School because he fails his classes.  To avoid telling his parents, he leaves Pencey without telling them, and wanders the streets of New York.  Holden becomes very lonely and wishes to talk with
his loving little sister, Phoebe.  He sneaks home and spends the night in his unused brother's room.  After Holden gives the news to Phoebe that he would like to move to the west, Phoebe is upset and gives Holden the silent treatment.  Later, Holden takes Phoebe to the zoo.  She is
still not speaking to him, but goes along with him.  At the zoo, they see the carousel, which Phoebe has always loved.  He gives her a ticket to ride and the silent treatment ends.  He promises her that he will stay and not go West.  As it starts to pour rain, Holden sits getting
drenched and watching Phoebe go round and round on the carousel.  He feels that this is one of the happiest times of his life.  He realizes that this is what makes him happy and near the end, he begins to miss his friends at Pencey.

2 Symbols:

catcher in the rye-  Holden states that he wants to be the catcher in the rye, preventing people from falling off the edge of a cliff.  This symbolizes what Holden truly wants to be.

Phoebe-  She is a symbol of happiness and joy for Holden.  Her happiness brings Holden to tears of joy.


 Salinger writes this novel in first person, which gives the real thoughts and feelings of Holden.  He also has Holden use cuss words and slang to express his many opinions.  These techniques make the whole story seem so realistic.


 The Catcher in the Rye is a book dealing with a young teenager who finds his true self.  He goes through several incidents which make him realize that he wants to be the catcher in the rye, not just another annoying high school teenager.

"They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some hotshot guy on a horse jumping over a fence.  Like as if all you ever did at Pencey was play polo all the time.  I never saw a horse anywhere near the place."  This is an example of Holden’s opinionated feelings about Pencey School.

"You're right in my light, Holden, for Chrissake...Ya have to stand right there?"  This shows Stradtlater worrying about his appearance for girls.

"I was surrounded by jerks.  I'm not kidding."  Holden says this referring to some people at the bar.  He shows his disgust toward ‘fake’ people.

”How do you know you’re going to do something until you do it?”  Holden replies with his whenever someone asks if he’s going to ‘apply’ himself.  This is not really Holden’s philosophy but his lack of consideration on the topic and a way to beat around the bush.