Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Time: A long weekend in the late 1940s or early 1950s
Place: Holden begins his story in Pennsylvania, at Pencey Prep. He then recounts his adventures in New York City.
Themes: Alienation as a form of self-protection; the painfulness of growing up; the phoniness of the adult world
• Holden Caulfield- he protagonist and narrator of the novel, Holden is a sixteen-year-old junior who has just been expelled for failing from Pencey Prep. Although he is intelligent and sensitive, Holden narrates in a cynical and jaded voice. He finds the hypocrisy and ugliness of the world around him almost unbearable, and he tries ...view middle of the document...
Holden is tormented by Allie's death and carries around a baseball glove on which Allie used to write poems.
• D. B. Caulfield - Holden’s older brother. D. B. wrote a volume of short stories that Holden admires very much, but Holden feels that D. B. prostitutes his talents by writing for Hollywood movies.
• Sally Hayes - A very attractive girl whom Holden has known and dated for a long time. Though Sally is well read, Holden claims that she is “stupid,” although it is difficult to tell whether this judgment is based in reality or merely in Holden's ambivalence about being sexually attracted to her. She is certainly more conventional than Holden in her tastes and manners.
• Mr. Spencer - Holden’s history teacher at Pencey Prep, who unsuccessfully tries to shake Holden out of his academic apathy.
• Carl Luce - A student at Columbia who was Holden's student advisor at the Whooton School. Luce is three years older than Holden and has a great deal of sexual experience. At Whooton, he was a source of knowledge about sex for the younger boys, and Holden tries to get him to talk about sex at their meeting.
• Mr. Antolini - Holden's former English teacher at the Elkton Hills School. Holden respects him. Holden sometimes finds him a bit too clever, but he looks to him for guidance. Like many characters in the novel, he drinks heavily
Holden is not specific about his location while he's telling the story, but he makes it clear that he is undergoing treatment in a mental hospital. The events he narrates take place in the few days between the end of the fall school term and Christmas, when Holden is sixteen years old.
Holden's story begins on the Saturday following the end of classes at the Pencey prep school in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. Pencey is Holden's fourth school; he has already failed out of three others. At Pencey, he has failed four out of five of his classes and has received notice that he is being expelled, but he is not scheduled to return home to Manhattan until Wednesday. He visits his elderly history teacher, Spencer, to say goodbye, but when Spencer tries to reprimand him for his poor academic performance, Holden becomes annoyed.
Back in the dormitory, Holden is further irritated by his unhygienic neighbor, Ackley, and by his own roommate, Stradlater. Stradlater spends the evening on a date with Jane Gallagher, a girl whom Holden used to date and whom he still admires. During the course of the evening, Holden grows increasingly nervous about Stradlater's taking Jane out. Stradlater teases Holden, who flies into a rage and attacks Stradlater. Stradlater pins Holden down and bloodies his nose. Holden decides that he's had enough of Pencey and will go to Manhattan three days early, stay in a hotel, and not tell his parents that he is back.
He gets in a cab and asks the cab driver where the ducks in Central Park go when the lagoon freezes, but his question annoys the driver. Holden has the cab take him to the Edmont...