The Catcher in The Rye
Chapters 1-3
Holden
• Narration / Cynical tone
– “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing
you’ll probably want to know is where I was born,
and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my
parents were occupied and all before they had me,
and all that David Copperfield kind of crap…”
(Salinger 1).
• Allusion
• Story told from adult’s perspective
• Holden tells story as a teenager
– Holden will tell story in a deeper, more intelligent level
• singular first-person perspective
– Follow along with Holden
Tone
• “Besides, I’m not going to tell you my
whole goddam autobiography or anything.
I’ll just tell you about this madman stuff
that happened to me around last
Christmas just before I got pretty run-down
and had to come out here and take it
easy” (1).
– Where he is telling the story from
– Doesn’t include personal information
Characterization
• “practically the whole school except me
was there…” (2)
– Ostracized by fencing team
– On his way to Spencer’s, been expelled
Holden
• Characterization
– Contradiction
• Respects their academia but hates it
• “ What I was really hanging around for, I was
trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I’ve
left schools and places I didn’t even know I was
leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care it’s a sad
good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a
place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t,
you feel even worse,” (Salinger 4).
• Looks for a sense or feeling of good-by
– Indicates true feelings
Holden
• Characterization
– Contradiction:
• Praises academia but hates Pencey
• “ What I was really hanging around for, I was
trying to feel some kind of good-by. I mean I’ve
left schools and places I didn’t even know I was
leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a
sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave
a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t,
you feel even worse,” (4).
• Looks for a sense or feeling of good-by
– Indicates true feelings
Characterization
• “After I got across the road, I felt like I was
sort of disappearing. It was that kind of a
crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no
sun out or anything, and you felt like you
were disappearing every time you crossed
a road” (5).
– Feels lonely and isolated
Tone
Holden’s Tone: Cynical
• “Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on
the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a
game, all right…But if you get on the other
side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then
what’s a game about it?” (Salinger 8).
• Holden refuses to “play” by the rules –
conform
• Alienation- identifies with the “other side”
• Contempt for adults
Holden
• Characterization
– Refuses to face reality
– Reality causes sadness and despair of his
situation
• “I didn’t like hearing him say that. It made me
sound dead or something. It was very
depressing,” (14).
• “ But I just couldn’t hang around there any
longer, the way we were on opposite sides of
the pole…” (15).
• “It made me feel sad as hell,” (15).
Holden
• Characterization
- Hypocrisy that surrounds him
- Ugliness which surrounds him
- Unpleasantness of Spencer’s room
- Reveals own flaws and condemns
the rest of the world
Holden’s Actions
• Despises everyone/ everything
– Contradiction in his thoughts
• Surface behavior versus inner feelings
• No close bond- irritating/ disgusting
Characterization
• “I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in
your life” (16).
– Indicates that he will lie, unreliable narrator
– Exaggeration but not malicious
– Life is boring for Holden, how he “spices it up”
Hunting Hat
• “…then I put on this hat that I’d bought in
New York that morning. It was this red
hunting hat, with one of those very, very
long peaks…The way I wore it, I swung
the old peak way around to the back- very
corny, I’ll admit, but I liked it that way. I
looked good that way” (17-18).
– Holden’s sense of joy when he wears it
– Unconventional in style, as Holden sees
himself
Ackley & Stradlater
•
•
•
•
Recluse
Gross personal habits
Hates everyone
Loner
• Self-absorbed
• Concerned with
appearance
• Many friends
• Still acts kindly to both
Holden’s Interactions
• Parallel between Ackley and Holden:
– Isolation
– Bitter, critical tone and outlook -shield
themselves from others.
– Ackley’s annoying habits protect him from
interaction & intimacy
– Interaction & intimacy are what Holden needs
and fears most
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