Discussion Question Respond to these questions in your notebooks: As a teenager, you are uniquely positioned between two stages of human experience childhood and adulthood. When you look back on your childhood, what do you remember fondly? What negative feelings, if any, do you have toward adulthood? Introduction to The Catcher in the Rye Mr. Higgins The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger • Born in 1919 to a prosperous Manhattan family • After flunking out of several prep schools, he eventually graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania in 1936 • He studied briefly at Ursinas College, New York University, and Columbia University • After taking a short story course at Columbia, Salinger began writing short fiction that appeared in a variety of publications including Collier’s, Saturday Evening Post, and The New Yorker J.D. Salinger • Salinger served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945, earning five battle stars • In addition to The Catcher in the Rye, Salinger is best known for three short story collections: Nine Stories (1953), Franny and Zoey (1955), and Raise High the Roof Beams (1963) • The mysterious Salinger lived in seclusion in New Hampshire from the 1960s until his death in January 2010 The Catcher in the Rye • Published in 1951 • While many parents objected to the main character’s obscene language, erratic behavior, and antisocial attitudes (not to mention the presence of sex, alcohol abuse, and prostitution in the novel), it became the “forbidden fruit” for many young readers, and was listed number one on The New York Times best-seller list and stayed at that position for thirty weeks • With more than 60 million copies sold, it is one of the world’s top sellers The Catcher in the Rye • The book is the account of three disoriented days in the life of a troubled sixteen-year-old boy, Holden Caulfield, after he is expelled from his Pennsylvania prep school, Pencey Prep. Key Thematic Concepts • Alienation and Loneliness • Emerging Sexuality • Difficulty of Becoming an Adult Literary Devices • Point of View: Holden – An Unreliable Narrator • Setting: Late 1940s America/Pencey Prep School & New York City • Symbolism • Voice: the style of Holden’s language Trivia • The man who shot John Lennon, Mark David Chapman, was carrying a copy of The Catcher in the Rye when he was arrested. He said Holden Caulfield represented the better part of his personality, while Satan represented the other part. • John Hinckley, Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981 was also an avid fan of the novel. • There were numerous requests to create film versions of The Catcher in the Rye, but Salinger turned them all down. • Some believe that the 2002 film, Igby Goes Down, is based on The Catcher in the Rye • In Conspiracy Theory, Mel Gibson’s character is put on a watch list because he buys a copy of the book.