Book Report on the catcher in the rye
By Jerome David Salinger
Author Introduction The author of the Catcher in the Rye, Jerome David Salinger was born in New York in 1919. He is the son of a wealthy cheese importer. He grew up in a fashionable neighborhood in Manhattan. He graduated from Valley Forge in 1936 and attended different colleges. He published his first short story in 1940. He kept on writing when he joined the army and fought in Europe during the World War II. He wrote for many notable magazines. In 1951, he published his full-length novel, The Catcher in the Rye, which helped him to the national and world stage.
The Context of the Book Many things on the Catcher in the Rye are from Salinger’s early life experience. The Catcher in the Rye published at a time when the developing of the American industrial economy made the nation prosperous and entrenched social rules served as a code of conformity for the younger generation. The book was banned in many areas when it was first released because many people think it was not formal literature. The book is in a casual and informal tone. Also, the book discusses about adult sexuality in an openly. The novel is popular though. It induces many critics and it is a best popular seller. The main character, Holden stands for a symbol of pure individuality in the face of cultural oppression. It is a tale of an individual’s separation from a cold and heartless world. The book is written during the World War II. Salinger participated in the World War II and the experience there cast a shadow over his life. The experience caused this cynical view of adult society. The Content of the Book The whole book and the story is a chronicle of Holden’s emotional break down. At the beginning, Holden, the protagonist of the book, showed his dissatisfaction and complains of the world and the environment he is living in. At the start of the book, he refused to talk about his early life. This imply him that there is bad thing happeneHe only mentioned that is brother D.B. is a Hollywood writer. He loved his brother a lot. Then, he starts to complain about the life in Pencey Prep, a famous school that he attended in Agrestown, Pennsylvania. He had bad grades in school. He passed only English and has failed for four other subjects. He has been forbidden to return to the school. He stands on Thomsen Hill and overlook the football field, where he and his team played its annual grudge. He remembered that he is the manager of the school fencing team. Once, because he lost the team’s equipment on the subway, all team had to come back to school and cancel the New York meeting.
Holden hates the prep school. He can’t wait to say “ Good bye to the school.” Before he left, he wanted to visit his history teacher. He couldn’t stand for Spencer’s talking about Holden’s academic failure. Mr. Spencer feels him and gave up. Then, he tries to convince Holden to think about his future. Holden don’t want to be lectured and he leaves. Holden’s best friends, Stadlater and Ackley, who are his roommates, seem like unsympathetic characters. Holden describes Ackley as an unpopular person and someone who try to protect himself. However, through Holden’s description, he actually reflects his own personalities. He doesn't want others to know himself. Holden also dislikes Holden because of his skin color. Holden’s new hunting hat is an important symbol in this book. Holden likes the hair because it can protect him. It can protect him from being looked at by others. It can help him to hide the appearance, which he is always embarrassed about. He also wants to hide his strange and special personality. Holden’s psychological break may results from the death of his brother, Allie. In the book, Holden reveals that he slept in the garage on the night of Allie’s death and broke all the windows. Allie is a very important figure in Holden’s life. He praised his intelligent and sports’ excellent. He is kind of a role model for Holden. Holden never let others to say bad thing about Allie, not even talk about him. Before he leaves the school, Stadlater criticizes Holden’s personal composition about Allie. Holden feels angry and snaps him. The book also notes down Holden’s changes in his behavior and his mental changes. When he leaves the school and he is on the train, he tries to call someone but he doesn’t know to whom. He thinks about Jane, the girl that he likes, but he gives up. He even thinks about a stranger whose number he was given at a party. Then he went to nightclub to flirt with some girl. His strange behavior implies his desire to communicate with others but he doesn’t know how to do it. He shows his loneliness. After Holden leaves his school and reaches New York, he experienced a horrible life, not physically but mentally. He needs companionship badly. He always thinks about Jane and Phoebe. He always looks at the world around him in critical and dismissive eyes. His understanding of the world is superficial and immature. His descriptions reflect his isolation from the world more. His experience with Sunny and Maurice reflects his loneliness more. He has sexual compel to have sex with Sunny and Maurice but he is afraid. Maurine and Sunny help him to understand the adult world better and that is exactly what he is afraid of. When Holden has a date with Sally, a girl who he knows in Phoebe, the girl tells him to stop yelling but he says he is not yelling. However, actually, Holden is yelling at her but he doesn’t know it. This implies that he is unaware of his extreme action. He also tells Sally to run away with him to a cabin in the wilderness shows his increasing distance from reality. Sally doesn’t have a complex characteristics but he still can’t deal with her. At this time, Holden is in a worse situation and he is like a social awkward who don’t know how to communicate with other people. There is also another impressive scene in the story. When he is walking alone a pond, he is upset and thinks about the death of Allie. He thinks about him. He sees a duck flowing on the pond. He wants to know where it is going because he afraid that people and things vanish. The pond is a metaphor of the world Holden sees. “Partly frozen and partly not frozen.” It is a transitional state just like Holden himself and the world he inhabits. After travel around and been to New York, Holden goes back to his home and met Phoebe. When he met Phoebe, he read the book for her. He love children and said: “ Adults’ sleeping looks lousy but children’s sleeping looks all right.” Holden tells Phoebe that he would like to be the catcher in the rye to save little children from falling off the cliff. This is a metaphor in the book. The rye field is a symbol of childhood. Holden wants to protect childhood innocence from the fall into disillusionment that necessarily accompanies adulthood. He wants to protect children from being polluted by the dirty world. He wants the children to be pure, and keep pure. When Holden visits his teacher Mr. Antilles and find out that he is a homosexual, he is on the edge of his psychological world. He couldn’t understand the world and he is freak out. Later, after he met Phoebe, he goes to museum with her. He leads two children to see the mummies. They are scared and run away. However, he sees a “fuck you” written on the mummies. He is scared because he doesn’t want other children to see it. When he is in Phoebe’s classroom, he see another “ fuck you” written on the wall. He erases it because he is afraid that other students may see it and ask for explanation. He tells Phoebe that he will go to other school and start the school at autumn. Phoebe wants to go with him but he doesn’t allow her to do so. With Phoebe, it is his first time to reciprocal communication with other people. He wants Phoebe to be with him but he can’t. For this time again, he reaches his metal limit and wants to run away from the reality. In the end, Holden went to a rest home but he still said that he would go to school next fall. The ending is kind of sad. Holden says: “ Don’t anybody anything, because once you do, you start to miss them” Missing somebody is what Holden afraid of throughout the story. He is afraid of others to communicate with him. He is afraid of others to know his stories. His story is a tragedy of that time and that society. “ Pure Holden” is a contrast of the society at that time. The writer also shows his cynical view of the society by Holden. The book is a great success no matter now and then.