The Catcher in the Rye

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1 Chapter 1 The Catcher in the Rye 1. Holden often speaks in hyperbole. When one exaggerates, what is doing? With this in mind, what is one not doing? Explain. 2. Explain why Holden refers to his brother as a prostitute. 3. Does Holden view people and situations in a positive or in a negative light? Explain, providing one example. 4. What does Holden mention in passing after saying, I forgot to tell you about that.? What line follows? How else might that sentence be written to more accurately reflect what happened? 5. How does Holden feel when he crosses Route 204, or any road for that matter? Chapter 2 1. Whom does Holden visit in Chapter 2? What connection to Holden did this person have? 2. How many schools has Holden attended? How old is he? How old does he act like he is? 3. Describe Holden, physically. Contrast his physical appearance with his level of maturity. 4. Holden says, People never notice anything. Assuming this were true, could the same be said of Holden? What things does Holden notice? Explain. 5. Upon which ancient civilization does Holden focus his writing for his exam? Which aspect of this civilization received his attention? 6. Holden lives in New York City. What part of Central Park comes to mind while he is shooting the bull with Old Spencer? What animals does he think about? What concern does he exhibit for these creatures? 7. Holden says, I didn t feel like going into the whole thing with him. What might the whole thing be? Tuck this away for later. 8. Don t worry about me, I said I mean it. I ll be all right. I m just going through a phase right now. Everybody goes through phases and all, don t they When someone goes through a phase, what usually happens as a result? 9. I m pretty sure he yelled Good luck! at me. I hope not. I hope to hell not. I d never yell Good luck! at anybody. It sounds terrible, when you think about it. Explain how what Holden says makes sense on some level.

2 Chapter 3 1. With what declaration does Holden begin the third chapter? 2. Who is Ossenberger? What does he do for a living? Why does Holden hold this man in low esteem? 3. What did Holden buy during a trip to New York? 4. What three novels does Holden mention? Why are they significant? 5. What kind of hat does Holden have? What color is it? Why does someone engaging in that activity wear that type of hat? How does this apply to Holden? Chapter 4 1. Who is Stradlater? 2. Explain the notion of a secret slob. 3. What does Stradlater want Holden to do? What requirement must be fulfilled as part of this task? 4. Whom does Stradlater say he is taking on a date? How does Holden correct him? What does this suggest? 5. What did Holden used to play with this person? What does he remember about the way she played the game? 6. How does Holden describe the man this girl s mother married? 7. Why doesn t Holden like the way Stradlater says, She only signed out for nine-thirty, for Crissake. 8. What did Holden do for an hour and a half after Stadlater left? What does this suggest to the reader? 9. Ackley barged back in again, through the damn shower curtains, as usual. For once in my stupid life, I was really glad to see him. He took my mind off the other stuff. To what other stuff might Holden be referring?

3 Chapter 5 1. About what did Holden write the composition for Stradlater? 2. What major occurrence does Holden neglect to mention until the fifth chapter? Is this because it is unimportant? If it is important, why did he wait so long to reveal it? 3. I happened to have it with me, in my suitcase, so I got it out and copied down the poems that were written on it. Is it merely a coincidence that Holden has this with him? Chapter 6 1. Some things are hard to remember. What types of things are hard to remember? Why might they be hard to remember? Is it because they are inherently difficult to remember, or might there be another reason? Explain. 2. How does Stradlater react to Holden s composition-subject choice? 3. Why do you think Holden badgers Stradlater about his date with Jane Gallagher (Avoid the obvious here, and give this one serious consideration.) 4. How does the the fact that Stradlater borrowed the basketball coach s, Ed Banky s, car illustrate that there is a great divide between Holden and his roommate with regard to how they are treated or perceived? Consider this: would anyone lend Holden his car? 5. I told him he didn t even care if a girl kept all her kings in the back row or not, and the reason he didn t care was because he was a goddam stupid moron. What does Stradlater care about (put this delicately, so as not to give me a heart attack.) What does what what Holden cares about say about his character? 6. That s the trouble with all you morons. You never want to discuss anything. What is Holden reluctant to discuss? Why might this be the case? 7. After Holden and Stradlater have their dust-up (altercation [fight]) and Stradlater leaves the room, what is the first thing Holden does? Why do you think he does this?

4 Chapter 7 1. After Ackley s repeated inquiries as to why Holden and Stradlater fought, Holden finally says, It s a long story. I don t want to bore ya, Ackley. I m thinking of your welfare. Why did Holden and Stradlater fight (Again, avoid the obvious.)? Is the reason Holden doesn t want to go into his long story a concern for Ackley s well-being, or is there another reason? Explain. 2. As he lies in Ackley s room, Holden thinks, It was even depressing out in the street. You couldn t even hear any cars anymore. I got feeling so lonesome and rotten, I even felt like waking Ackley up. Explain what is really bothering Holden. Explain why you think he feels the way he feels things are depressing. Things are not inherently depressing (i.e., rainy days; dark, quiet nights; empty streets). Why, then, might they adversely affect some individuals? 3. What s the routine on joining a monastery?... I was sort of toying with the idea of joining one. Monks live in virtual isolation, even when living in a community, and many orders make a vow of silence. Explain why these things would appeal to Holden. 4. Holden decides to leave Pencey Prep a bit prematurely, thinking, I just didn t want to hang around any more. It made me too sad and lonesome. Explain how Holden could feel lonesome while surrounded by his peers. 5. I sort of needed a little vacation. My nerves were shot. They really were. Explain what you think Holden means when he says his nerves were shot. Why would his nerves be shot? 6. I went back to the room and turned on the light, to start packing and all. I already had quite a few things packed... It only took me about two minutes. I m a very rapid packer. To what might Holden s rapid-packing skills be attributed? 7. I was sort of crying. I don t know why. I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my goddam voice, Sleep tight, ya morons! I ll bet I woke up every bastard on the floor. Then I got the hell out. Why does Holden decide to leave Pencey in the middle of the night rather than in a few days, at the end of the semester? Why do you think he considers his classmates to be morons and bastard s? (Consider this: why does Holden constantly seem to set himself up in opposition to those around him? What might the benefit[s] be?)

5 Chapter 8 1. That hat I bought had earlaps [earflaps] in it, and I put them on--i didn t give a damn how I looked. For what other reason might earlaps be useful other than for warmth? (In addition to the cold, what else might they keep out?) Explain. 2. Whom does Holden meet on the train to Penn Station? What gets their conversation started? 3. How does Holden claim to feel about Ernest Morrow? How does he truly feel about Ernest? What is the meaning of the word morrow? Explain why this is greatly significant, given Holden s present circumstances. 4. In reality, who is Rudolf Schmidt? How does Holden use Rudolf Schmidt to his advantage? 5. I started reading this timetable I had in my pocket. Just to stop lying. Once I get started, I can go on for hours if I feel like it. No kidding. Hours. If one is lying, what is one not doing (don t overthink it--the obvious answer is the answer here)? With this in mind, explain why Holden might be inclined to tell lies. (Consider this: What is the alternative if he speaks and doesn t lie? What might he discuss? ) Chapter 9 1. When Holden decides not to call Sally Hayes when he arrives in New York City, he says, I was afraid her mother d answer the phone. Her mother knew my mother, and I could picture her breaking a goddam leg to get to the phone and tell my mother I was in New York. Besides, I wasn t crazy about talking to old Mrs. Hayes on the phone. She once told Sally I was wild. She said I was wild and that I had no direction in life. Do you believe Sally s mother made this comment to her daughter before or after Allie s death? Explain why. 2. What does Holden ask the cab driver who takes him to the Edmont Hotel? What is the driver s reaction to Holden s question?? 3. Explain the irony in the following statement: [T]he hotel was lousy with perverts. I was probably the only normal bastard in the whole place--and that wasn t saying much. Reread the paragraph that includes that statement to find the irony. 4. Explain who Mr. Cawffle is.

6 Chapter Describe Holden s self-image, using the following passage: I m the only dumb one in the family. My brother D.B. s a writer and all, and my brother Allie, the one that died that I told you about, was a wizard. I m the only really dumb one. But you ought to see old Phoebe. She has this sort of red hair, a little bit like Allie s was.... You d like her. I mean if you tell old Phoebe something, she knows exactly what the hell you re talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you. If you take her to a lousy movie, she knows it s a lousy movie. if you take her to a pretty good movie, she knows it s a pretty good movie. Is everyone as perfect as Holden believes them to be; is he as horrible as he thinks he is? Explain. 2. Explain who Jim Steele is. Chapter At the start of chapter 11, what does Holden get on the brain again. What is bothering him? 2. Who is the only person, outside of his family, to whom Holden has shown Allie s baseball mitt? What can the reader glean from this nugget of information? 3. Briefly and clearly explain why Holden s fascination with Jane Gallagher s checker-playing skills makes much more sense after reading chapter 11. Chapter [I]t was so quiet and lonesome out, even though it was Saturday night.... New York s terrible when somebody laughs on the street very late at night. You can here it for miles. It makes you feel so lonesome and depressed. Why might Holden feel this way? Who might the you to whom he refers be? Explain. 2. What does Horwitz say happens to the fish when the lagoon in Central Park freezes over? How does this differ from what happens with the ducks? How might the two fates be similar? 3. If you was a fish, Mother Nature d take care of you, wouldn t she? Right? You don t think them fish just die when it gets to be winter, do ya? How might this be comforting to Holden? (How might it be applied in a broader sense?.) 4. I swear to God, if I were a piano player or an actor or something and all these dopes thought I was terrific, I d hate it.... I partly blame all those dopes that clap their heads off--they d foul up anybody, if you gave them a chance. Anyway, it made me feel depressed and lonely again, and I damn near got my coat back and went back to the hotel, but it was too early and I didn t feel much like being all alone. There is so much to pick apart in this passage, I don t know where to begin. You begin. Pick away.

7 5. I was surrounded by jerks. I m not kidding. How is this a very convenient worldview for Holden? 6. Real ugly girls have it tough. I feel so sorry for them sometimes. Get past the obvious (and incorrect) sentiment one would think this expresses, and figure out what it really proves about Holden Caulfield. 7. You could tell [Lillian Simmons] thought it was a big deal, his being in Hollywood. Almost everybody does. Mostly people who ve never read any of his stories. It drives me crazy, though. Why does it drive Holden crazy? Chapter On his walk back to the hotel, Holden says, I took my red hunting hat out of my pocket and put it on--i didn t give a damn how I looked. I even put the earlaps down. Break it down. 2. One of my troubles is, I never care too much when I lose something. Hellooooooooo!!!!! 3. The whole lobby was empty. It smelled like fifty million dead cigars. It really did. I wasn t sleepy or anything, but I was feeling sort of lousy. Depressed and all. I almost wished I was dead. What thoughts seem to be creeping into Holden s mind? 4. I came quite close to doing it a couple of times, though. One time in particular, I remember. Something went wrong, though--i don t even remember what any more. The thing is, most of the time when you re coming pretty close to doing it with a girl--a girl that isn t a prostitute or anything, I mean--she keeps telling you to stop. The trouble with me is, I stop. Most guys don t. What does this reveal about Holden s character? 5. What is Sunn y profession? How does Holden want to spend his time with her? Why does Chapter 14 this make all the sense in the world? 1. To whom does Holden start talking when Sunny leaves? What is the significance of the Bobby-Fallon incident? 2. With which Biblical figures does Holden have a tremendous problem? Why? How might this be connected to the Bobby-Fallon story? Which Biblical figure earns Holden s sympathy? Why?

8 3. When Holden recounts the time Maurice, the chiseling elevator operator/pimp, stopped by to extort five dollars from Holden, he says I wished I was dressed at least. It s terrible to be just in your pajamas when something like that happens. Why? 4. Sunny had said Like fun...., but Maurice says, Cut the crap. What does this illustrate? 5. After suffering defeat at the hands of the thug, Maurice, what does Holden pretend is happening? Why is this ironic and somewhat hypocritical? Why is it very revealing? 6. What does Holden says he considered at the end of the chapter? What is happening? Chapter Before meeting with Sally Hayes, on whom does Holden check? 2. What is Holden s father s occupation? How does he describe his father s financial position? What always happens with his investments? 3. [Holden s mother] hasn t felt too healthy since my brother Allie dies. She s very nervous. 4. Whom does Holden encounter in Grand Central during breakfast? What play do they discuss? How does Holden feel about this? 5. In this play, whose death bothers Holden? What about his death bothers him? Why is this significant? Chapter What does Holden hear a boy singing? While he is paying attention to the boy, who apparently is not? Why might this be significant? 2. It didn t seem like Christmas was coming soon. It didn t seem like anything was coming. 3. What museum does Holden visit? What does he see? Who captures his attention? 4. What does Holden say the best thing.... in that museum is? Why is this vitally important? 5. What does Holden say about life and big glass cases? Why?

9 Chapter Of the Lunts, Holden says, I couldn t get very interested. I mean I didn t care too much when anybody in the family died or anything. They were all just a bunch of actors. Of all the things to say, why does Holden say this? 2. You ought to go to a boys school sometime. Try it sometime. It s full of phonies, and all you do is study so you can learn enough to be smart enough to be able to buy a goddam Cadillac some day, and you have to keep making believe you give a damn if the football team loses, and all you do is talk about girls and liquor and sex all day, and everybody sticks together in these dirty little goddam cliques. The guys that are on the basketball team stick together, the Catholics stick together, the guys that play bridge stick together. Even the guys that belong to the goddam Book-of-the-Month Club stick together. if you try to have a little intelligent-- Now, listen, old Sally said. Lots of boys get more out of school than that. I agree! I agree they do, some of them! But that s all I get out of it. See? That s my point. That s exactly my goddam point, I said. I don t get hardly anything out of anything. I m in bad shape. I m in lousy shape. Explain how this exchange is very revealing and why it is vitally important to Holden s literal survival. 3. Holden bristles when Sally says, We ll have oodles of time to do those things--all those things. I mean after you go to college and all.... Why might the mention of plenty of time in the future bother him?

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