The catcher in the rye

a novel by J.D. Salinger (1951)
• General points
• Micro-teaching
• Introduction to the novel and the era
• Ongoing projects
• Lesson plans
• Age group
• 4th or 5th Grade: Holden is 16-17 years old in the novel
• Division of the book
• The book consists of 26 short chapters; students read 3 to 4
chapters for every lesson
• The whole discussion would take a series of 10 lessons (one a
• Main focus during the reading process
• Characters and their development
• Themes
• Individual work (5 mins)
• Write a list of five things that depress you and three things that
make you happy.
• Group work (10 mins)
• Work in groups of 3 or 4. Exchange lists with your partners and
then create a joint top 3 of things that depress you and make you
happy as a group.
Ongoing activities
• During the reading process students will keep a
• Journal of the characters and their development (character sheet)
• A log of all things depressing Holden and those that make him feel
• A list of themes introduced and discussed in the novel.
Lesson 1: Introduction to the era
• Mini research projects
in groups
• J.D. Salinger
• Historical background:
the US in the 1940s
• New York in the 1940s
• The culture of New York
City in the 1940s
• Clip from a 1940s film
Lesson 2 (Chapter 1-3)
• Opener
Write three words onto the blackboard, which spontaneously come to your mind
after having read the first three chapters.
Explain why you have chosen those words.
• Group work
Who is Mr Spencer and why does Holden visit him?
Find adjectives that describe Holden Caulfield as well as his history teacher
Explain why you have chosen those adjectives (where in the text can these be
found or observed?)
What does Spencer do that particularly annoyed Holden?
What can you infer about Holden’s character through his note to Mr Spencer?
• Pair work
Vocab quiz on: grippe, foil, exhibitionist, rostrum, compulsory, pacifist, sadist, gore,
crude, qualms, haemorrhage, unscrupulous, innumerable, and falsetto)
Lesson 2 (Ch1-3)
• Discussion in class
“This is a people shooting hat,” I said. “I shoot people
in this hat.”
Students shall write down how they interpret this sentence.
(What is the purpose/function of this hat? When does
Holden wear it and when does he not wear it?)
Lesson 3 (Chapter 4-6)
• Opener
Do you think it could be fun sharing a room with a fellow student? What
are the advantages and disadvantages?
• Group work / presentations
Students have to create 3 character profiles. One for Holden, Ackley
and Stradlater and present them to the class. What do they have in
common? What makes them different to each other?
• Fish Bowl
What does Holden associate with that word?
Find examples in the text
Is there a German equivalent for it? Who would we classify as being
Lesson 4 (Chapter 7-9)
• Opener
When and why do people lie?
• Pair work / Discussion in class
Lying and Deception
Write down all of Holden lies you can find in the text
Why do you think he makes up those lies?
• Station learning & presentations
Women, Relationships, Intimacy, and Sexuality
How does he feel towards Jane Gallagher
How does he approach women?
How does he want women to be treated?
What does he dislike when observing other lovers?
How would you describe Holden’s moral standards?
Lesson 5 (Chapter 10-13)
• Opener
When and why do people feel lonely?
• Writing task: Loneliness & Alienation
• Two topics to choose from:
A) What is the question Holden
asks the cab driver? Is it a
question that he has been
concerned with before?
B) Who is Phoebe, and what is
Holden's opinion of her?
Research task (in groups)
1) Find a map of New York City and label four places that
are mentioned in the novel on your map.
2) Make a timeline of the places and events that take place,
beginning with Holden’s time at Pencey Prep.
Lesson 6 (Chapter 14-17)
• Group Puzzle
• Group A: Chapter 14
• Religion: what is Holden’s religious attitude; his views on Jesus and
Judas and the disciples; his favourite character in the Bible
• Group B: Chapter 15
• What is the significance of his encounter with the nuns?
• Group C: Chapter 16
• The phoniness of movies and theatre vs authenticity
• Group D: Chapter 17
• Sally vs Jane: Holden’s relationship with Sally, their lack of compatibility
Lesson 7 (Chapter 18-20)
• Plot
• Which events in these chapters show that he has reached the worst part
of his adventure mentally and physically?
• Characters
• What roles do the following characters play in these chapters?
• Carl Luce
• Jane Gallagher
• Allie
• Symbols
• The ducks are a recurring symbol in the novel: how would you interpret
• Themes
• How is Holden coming to terms with his own sexuality and his own
Lesson 8 (Chapter 21-23)
• Opener
• What are the advantages of being a child compared to being an
• Childhood vs adulthood
• Phoebe is a key character in the novel; why is she Holden’s best friend?
• The title of the book
Find the passage that unlocks the
meaning of the title.
Lesson 9 (23-26)
• Newspaper headlines
• Create a newspaper headline for each of the chapters that
summarizes the main event or development. Use journalistic
phrases (serious or sensationalist).
• “You can’t find a place that’s nice and peaceful
because there isn’t any.”
• Throughout the novel Holden is looking for a peaceful place where
he can finally relax and feel happy. Why do none of the places turn
out to be peaceful? Where do you think this peaceful place could
exist for him?
Final discussion
• Explain how the narrator changes throughout the course
of the novel. (character sheet)
• Compare and contrast the characters Holden labels as
phony with those he considers to be authentic. (character
• Describe why Holden feels so lonely and depressed. (log
of things that make him depressed)
• Explain why this novel is considered a classic and cite
what aspects of this story are still relevant today?
• Compare and contrast Holden’s views of adulthood with
your own.
Lesson 10 and 11 : Film making
Group work
• With your group discuss how you would film one of the
following scenes of the novel:
• Holden’s manic night from meeting Luce at the bar to looking for
the ducks in the park
• Holden and Phoebe’s conversation and dance in J.D.’s room in the
middle of the night
• Holden going to Phoebe’s school to give her the note, and their
meeting outside the museum
• Think about camera shots, music, setting
Salinger’s letter
to a Hollywood
explaining why
he would not
sell the rights to
Salinger’s letter
Is the Catcher in the Rye really
• Read the article from The Guardian:
• Discuss whether you really thing the novel is unfilmable,
make a list of your arguments to present to the class.