Referat The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye



  1. The Author: Jerome D. Salinger
  2. Plot Summary
  3. The Language & Style used in the book
  4. Analysis of Holden's Character


  • Jerome D. Salinger was born in 1919 in New York City as the son  of a well-to-do grocery salesman
  • Attended various east Coast private prep schools and afterwards a couple of different colleges, but he never graduated.
  • After excelling in a creative writing class in college, his first short story published in 1940; he continued to write even as a soldier in WWII; however, his writing was sparely noticed by the critics.
  • In 1951, his first and to this day only novel, "The Catcher in the Rye" is published, and he appears on the international literary stage. Spurred great discussions and critical acclaim, but also criticism,
  • public reception:

Noted book reviewers from across America critiqued The Catcher in the Rye, bestowing both praise and criticism at different levels

has been banned continually from schools, libraries, and bookstores due to its profanity, sexual subject matter, and rejection of some traditional American ideals.

  • After the "Catcher", Salinger published a couple of short stories, which were torn to pieces by the critics.
  • In 1965, he published the short story "Hapworth 26, 1924" that received exceptionally bad critcs, and in response to that, he withdrew almost completely from public life
  • Has lived as a recluse Cornish, New Hampshire to the present day and not published anything since then, however he seems to have kept on writing, and after his death many of his later works may be published

2) The Plot in a Nutshell


  • Protagonist is Holden Caulfield, 16, first person narrator: He comes from a well-to-do family of New Yorkers
  • At the beginning & within the book he addresses the reader directly:
    In a California mental hospital to recuperate from an unnamed illness(Frame Story)
  • Holden tells the actual plot from his memory: The Plot starts one Saturday short before Christmas in a private Pennsylvania Preparatory School:
  • Holden is not allowed to return for the next term b/c he flunked four of the five subjects he had been taking, and he has been thrown out of three other schools for not applying himself
  • He visits his history teacher to say good bye to him, and it turns out that Holden has great dislike for all the customs of the world of the adults, what he calls phoniness, so he almost pukes when Spencer calls "Good Luck" after him when he leaves
  • He returns to his room and begins to read, but then he is disturbed by two fellow students, Ackley and Stradlater.
  • He muses at some lengths about those two students and why he despises them: Ackley is a slob and a has very bad personality and doesn't care about anybody's privacy; Stradlater is a womaniser and brags about his sexual successes.
  • Essay about Allie's Baseball mitt
  • Stradlater doesn't like the essay Holden wrote for him, and they get into a fight, Holden loses and decides to leave the school and go to New York and stay in a hotel for a couple of days until his parents have been told about his expulsion b/c he doesn't want to tell them himself.
  • In New York he doesn't know what to do, he wants to call his kid sister Phoebe, but she'd be asleep, or his former dates Sally Hayes or Jane Gallagher, but doesn't' call anybody and gets himself a room in a cheap hotel.
  • In his room he calls a prostitute whose number he got from a friend at school, but she turns him down.
  • Instead, he walks around the city aimlessly, goes to a night club, has a drink and feels quite uncomfortable
  • Back at the hotel, the lift boy asks whether he would like to have a prostitute sent to his room, and he answers yes
  • The prostitute comes, but Holden sees that she's almost as young as him, besides, he is still a virgin and he gets so depressed that he pays her, but sends her away without anything further happening.
  • The following day, he arranges a date with Sally Hayes, who is phony, but very good looking. They go to a matinee and get along w/ each other well until Holden asks her to run away with him and live in a cabin in the woods, and when she refuses, he calls her a royal pain in the ass and walks away.
  • He gets himself quite drunk and finally decides to go home to see his little sister Phoebe, whom he likes very much.
  • When he tells her he flunked out of school again, she asks him if there's anything he really likes. His answer: (p 173)
  • Holden decides to spend the night at the house of a former teacher, Mr. Antolini, where he gets a friendly welcome and discusses his problems in school with the open-minded Mr. Antolini.
  • However, at night he wakes up and finds Mr. Antolini with his hand on Holden's head looking at him, and Holden interprets thinks the teacher is making a pass at him and leaves.
  • The next day, Holden becomes ever more irritable and his account of the actions ever more paranoid and delusional. This passage is taken from him rambling on in this erratic state of mind: (p. 198)
  • He sends Phoebe a message that he wants to go away someplace and to meet him to say goodbye. When they meet, she wants to come with him, but he doesn't want her to come. She refuses to talk to him until he buys her a ticket for the carousel in Central Park and the plot ends with him sitting in the rain crying and watching her riding the carousel.
  • The last chapter takes place in the sanitarium from where Holden tells the story. He says he doesn't want to talk any more about his sickness, and that telling the story in fact only made him miss people the more, even the jerks.

3) Language & Style

  • Written in common, sometimes profane language,
  •  the colloquial language used in the 50ies
  • Reintroduced the common language into American Literature
  • at some points almost a stream-of-consciousness technique, with very short or unfinished sentences
  • The language mirrors the situation, Holden talks differently to different people
  • Holden's tone varies between disgust, cynicism, bitterness, and nostalgic longing, all expressed in a colloquial style.

4) Holden's Character

In the 50's , when the boo was published, a great number of people was able to identify with Holden, even those that came from backgrounds completely different from his.

Most certainly, he is a unreliable narrator, so as the book is written as a first person narrative, one cannot trust his account of the action but has to make up his mind himself. He certainly has great psychological problems that probably stem from his remembrance of the death of his brother Allie.

He alienates himself and shows little more than contempt for the world around him, in fact the only person in the whole book he seems to like is his sister Phoebe, all the others he dismisses as phonies whom he regards as superficial. Though, as well it might be that he himself is superficial and fails to see them as whole personalities.

A second facet of Holden's personality is his obsession with sexual matters. In fact, he spends a good part of the novel trying to lose his virginity and even more thinking about it. However, when it comes close that he might actually have sex with the prostitute, he backs out of it by saying he doesn't feel well because he has been operated on his "clavichord".

Some critics also said that he might have a Madonna/whore complex. He keeps thinking about Jane Gallagher, who he must have really loved at some point, but can't make up his mind to go out with her, but makes passes at prostitutes and women he doesn't really like instead.

The book is a Classic American bildungsroman and has been compared to the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for this reason. The great theme of the novel is the difficulty that lies in the transition from childhood to adulthood. Although Holden is an adult in his outward appearance (over 6 ft tall, he has grey hair), it becomes very clear that he is still very much a child. He is very observative and notes every detail he sees, but isn't able to understand the world around him and can't cope with society's complexity. This becomes clearer every time he dreams about leaving the city and living in the woods or pretending to be a deaf mute, and flee from society is in fact what the author did.

Instead of "growing up" and becoming and adult himself, he dismisses the world of the adults as phony and superficial. He protects himself from it by alienating himself and preventing others to get close to him with his cutting cynicism.

Haupt | Fügen Sie Referat | Kontakt | Impressum | Datenschutz

Neu artikel