The Catcher in the Rye, Book Notes

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Book Notes

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: JD Salinger
Publish Date: 1951
Home Country of Author: United States, Manhattan

Characters

Protagonist: Holden Caulfield
Holden is a young 16 year old boy who admits to being everything he stands against. He admits he isn’t particularly good looking, or strong, and to having a lack of courage. He is lacking the strong characteristics that most protagonists possess, but what Holden does possess is a kind heart. Holden has a kinder heart than he may realize, and he shows for that in the ways that he expresses his love, for Jane, his sister Phoebe, his brother Allie. Even the way that he sees the nuns, or the way he sees Sunny, as a human rather than a prostitute. The only time Holden openly shows his kind hearted attribute is when he interacts with Phoebe. He said he was going to run away, and she said she was going to go with him, but he couldn’t allow that to happen. Then Holden realized what he would be leaving behind if he ran away. In a sense Phoebe opened Holden’s eyes, and made him realize that just because he thinks everything is bad, doesn’t mean it actually is. The way that he sees into people, knows what kind of person they are, and thinking and seeing attributes that aren’t blatantly obvious to others, gives Holden a sense of mortality. I think that Holden does possess good attributes; he just doesn’t show them.

Antagonist: Himself (Holden Caulfield’s judgment)
Holden Caulfield is also the antagonist. Holden has convinced himself that everyone around him is a ‘phony’. No matter where Holden went, who he met, they were always ‘phonies.’ As if everyone deep down was the complete opposite as they portray themselves to be. Though his accusation of everyone being ‘phonies’ is true in some sense; Holden’s way of thinking causes him to isolate himself from the rest of the world. It would seem that the ‘phonies’ would be the antagonist since this is from Holden’s point of view; rather it is Holden’s poor character judgment, and poor choices that cause him to think this way. Holden chooses to judge everyone that he comes across; he chooses to isolate himself from society, and he chooses to be alone.

Other important characters: Phoebe Caulfield, Allie Caulfield, Jane Gallagher

Relationships:
* Holden and Phoebe – Holden’s relationship with his sister is very important. Phoebe acts as Holden’s guide in a sense. Toward the end of the novel Holden experiences a miniature hero’s journey when he says he’s going to run away. His sister helps him realize the reality of him leaving. (pgs.266-275, end of chapter 25) Throughout the majority of the book, Phoebe is mentioned as if she is the only one who can really understand Holden on a deeper level. The brother and sister relationship between Holden and Phoebe is phenomenal. * Holden and Jane - Chapter 11, for the majority of the chapter he reflects upon his relationship with Jane and it shows how jealous he truly was of Stradlater for going out with her. Throughout the novel she is mentioned. He talks about her a lot; he talks about their past together and what kind of things they would do together back when he lived in Maine. At the beginning of almost every chapter Holden says something like “I figured maybe I’d give old Jane a buzz and see if she was home for vacation yet.” (pg 151) The trouble is, every time Holden thinks this or says this, he always gives an excuse like “but I wasn’t in the mood, you always have to been in the mood for that kind of thing.” Jane is mentioned a lot throughout the book, but you don’t get to know her from outside of what Holden remembers of her. I think that their relationship is very important. Only because his constant talking about her and remembering her is driven by his jealously of Stradlater.

Setting:
The incredible thing about The Catcher in the Rye is it only happens within three days, from Saturday night to Monday afternoon, and its somewhere between...
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