The Catcher in The Rye Book By J. D. Salinger (PDF-Summary-Review-Download-Online Reading)

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The Catcher in the Rye is a story By J. D. Salinger, partially published in serial form in 1945–1946 and as a novel in 1951. It was originally intended for adults but is often read by adolescents for its themes of angst and alienation, and as a critique on superficiality in society. It has been translated into almost all of the world's major languages. Around one million copies are sold each year, with total sales of more than 65 million books. The novel's protagonist Holden Caulfield has become an icon for teenage rebellion. The novel also deals with complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss, connection, and sex.

The novel was included on Time Magazine's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003, it was listed at number 15 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.

Book Details
Originally published: July 16, 1951
Pages: 234 (may vary)
Genres: Novel, Bildungsroman, Coming-of-Age Fiction, First-person narrative, Young adult fiction

The Catcher in the Rye Book Summary
The Catcher in the Rye Novel by J. D. Salinger takes place around the 1950s and is narrated by a young man named Holden Caulfield. Holden is not specific about his location while telling the story, but makes it clear that he is being treated in a psychiatric or sanatorium 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.

Holden's story begins the following Saturday at the end of classes at Pencey High School in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. Pencey is Holden's fourth school; He has already failed in three others. At Pencey, he failed four of five of his classes and received a warning that he was expelled, but is not scheduled to return to Manhattan until Wednesday. He visits his old history teacher, Spencer, to say goodbye, but when Spencer tries to reprimand him for his poor academic performance, Holden gets upset.

Back in the bedroom, Holden is more irritated by his unhygienic neighbor, Ackley, and his own roommate, Stradlater. Stradlater spends the night on a date with Jane Gallagher, a girl Holden used to date and still admires. During the course of the night, Holden becomes increasingly nervous about the fact that Stradlater takes Jane out, and when Stradlater returns, Holden asks him insistently if he tried to have sex with her. Stradlater makes fun of Holden, who is enraged and attacks Stradlater. Stradlater grabs Holden and bloodies his nose. Holden decides that he has had enough of Pencey and will go to Manhattan three days before, will stay in a hotel and will not tell his parents that he has returned.

On the train to New York, Holden meets the mother of one of his fellow Pencey students. Although he believes that this student is a complete "bastard," he tells the woman invented stories about how shy his son is and how respected he is in school. When he arrives at Penn Station, he enters a telephone booth and considers calling several people, but for several reasons, he decides not to do so. He gets into a taxi and asks the taxi driver where ducks in Central Park go when the lagoon freezes, but his question bothers the driver. Holden has the taxi driver take him to the Edmont Hotel, where he is registered.

From his room at the Edmont, Holden can see the rooms of some of the guests on the opposite wing. Watch a man wear silk stockings, high heels, a bra, a corset, and an evening dress. He also sees a man and a woman in another room taking turns spitting bites of their drinks on each other's faces and laughing hysterically. He interprets the couple's behavior as a form of sexual play and is upset and excited by him. After smoking a couple of cigarettes, he calls Faith Cavendish, a woman he never met but whose number he got from an acquaintance in Princeton. Holden thinks he remembers hearing that she used to be a stripper and thinks he can persuade her to have sex with him. He calls her, and although at first she is bothered that a stranger calls him at such a late hour, she finally suggests that they meet the next day. Holden does not want to wait that long and ends up hanging without arranging a meeting.

Holden goes down to the lavender room and sits at a table, but the waiter realizes he is a minor and refuses to serve him. Flirt with three women in their thirties, who seem to be out of town and are more interested in taking a look at a celebrity. However, Holden dances with them and feels that he is "half in love" with the blonde after seeing how well he dances. After making some jokes about his age, they leave, allowing him to pay his entire bill.

When Holden goes out into the lobby, he starts thinking about Jane Gallagher and, in a flashback, tells how he got to know her. They met during a summer vacation in Maine, played golf and ladies, and held hands in the cinema. One afternoon, during a game of ladies, her stepfather went out to the porch where they were playing, and when she left, Jane began to cry. Holden had moved to sit beside her and kissed her all over her face, but he wouldn't let her kiss her on the mouth. That was the closest they were to "kissing."

Holden leaves Edmont and takes a taxi to go to Ernie's jazz club in Greenwich Village. Again, he asks the taxi driver where ducks go in Central Park in winter, and this taxi driver is even more irritable than the first. Holden sits alone at a table in Ernie's and watches the other customers in disgust. He meets Lillian Simmons, one of his older brother's ex-girlfriends, who invites him to sit with her and her date. Holden says he has to meet someone, leaves and returns to Edmont.

Maurice, the elevator operator at Edmont, offers to send a prostitute to Holden's room for five dollars, and Holden agrees. A young woman, identifying herself as "Sunny", arrives at her door. She takes off her dress, but Holden begins to feel "peculiar" and tries to talk with her. He claims that he recently underwent a spine operation and is not sufficiently recovered to have sex with her, but offers to pay him anyway. She sits on his lap and talks dirty, but he insists on paying her five dollars and showing her the door. Sunny returns with Maurice, who demands another five dollars from Holden. When Holden refuses to pay, Maurice hits him in the stomach and leaves him on the floor, while Sunny takes out five dollars from his wallet. Holden goes to bed.

On Sunday she wakes up at ten o'clock and calls Sally Hayes, an attractive girl she has dated in the past. They agree to meet for a morning presentation of a Broadway play. Breakfast at a sandwich bar, where he talks with two nuns about Romeo and Juliet. He gives the nuns ten dollars. He tries to call Jane Gallagher, but his mother answers the phone and he hangs up. He takes a taxi to Central Park to look for his younger sister, Phoebe, but she's not there. He helps one of Phoebe's schoolmates tighten her skateboard, and the girl tells her that Phoebe could be in the Natural History Museum. Although he knows that Phoebe's class would not be in the museum on a Sunday, he goes there anyway, but when he arrives there he decides not to enter and instead takes a taxi to the Biltmore Hotel to meet Sally.

Holden and Sally go to the play, and Holden is upset because Sally talks to a boy he meets from Andover later. At Sally's suggestion, they go to Radio City to ice skate. Both skate badly and decide to get a table instead. Holden tries to explain to Sally why she is not happy at school, and actually urges her to flee with him to Massachusetts or Vermont and live in a cabin. When she refuses, he calls her a "pain in the ass" and laughs at her when she reacts angrily. She refuses to listen to her apologies and leaves.

Holden calls Jane again, but there is no answer. Call Carl Luce, a young man who had been Holden's student advisor at Whooton School and is now a student at Columbia University. Luce arranges to meet him for a drink after dinner, and Holden goes to the cinema in Radio City to kill time. Holden and Luce meet at the Wicker Bar at the Seton Hotel. In Whooton, Luce had spoken candidly with some of the boys about sex, and Holden tries to lure him into a conversation about it once again. Luce is irritated by Holden's youthful comments about gays and about Luce's Chinese girlfriend, and he has an excuse to leave early. Holden continues to drink whiskey and listen to the pianist and singer.

Pretty drunk, Holden phones Sally Hayes and babbles about her Christmas Eve plans. Then he goes to the lagoon in Central Park, where he used to watch ducks as a child. It takes a long time to find it, and by the time it does, it is frozen. Then he decides to sneak into his own apartment building and wake up his sister, Phoebe. She is forced to admit to Phoebe that he was expelled from school, which annoys her with him. When he tries to explain why he hates school, she accuses him of not liking anything. He tells her his fantasy of being "the rye hunter", a person who catches young children when they are about to fall off a cliff. Phoebe tells him that he has badly remembered the poem from which he took the picture: Robert Burns' poem says "if a body meets a body, going through the rye", not "catch a body".

Holden calls his old English teacher, Mr. Antolini, who tells Holden that he can come to his apartment. Antolini asks Holden about his expulsion and tries to advise him about his future. Holden can't hide his sleepiness, and Mr. Antolini lays him on the couch. Holden wakes up and finds Mr. Antolini stroking his forehead. Thinking that Mr. Antolini is making a homosexual overture, Holden hurriedly excuses himself and leaves, sleeping for a few hours on a bench at the Grand Central station.

Holden goes to Phoebe's school and sends him a note telling him that he is leaving home forever and that he should meet him at lunchtime at the museum. When Phoebe arrives, she carries a suitcase full of clothes and asks Holden to take her with him. He refuses angry, and she cries and then refuses to talk to him. Knowing that she will follow him, he walks to the zoo and then takes her through the park to a carousel. He buys her a ticket and sees her ride it. It starts to rain a lot, but Holden is so happy to see his sister get on the carousel that she is about to cry.

Holden ends his narration here, telling the reader that he will not tell the story of how he went home and "got sick." He plans to go to a new school in the fall and is cautiously optimistic about his future.

Book Club Questions

Book Review
Since his 1951 debut as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical teenager." Holden tells the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year life, just after being expelled from high school, in a jargon that sounds nervous even today and keeps this novel on the lists of forbidden books. Begins,
"If you really want to know, the first thing you probably want to know is where I was born and how my bad childhood was, and how my parents were busy and everything before they had me, and all that David Copperfield is a kind of shit, but no I want to get into that if you want to know the truth. First, that bores me, and secondly, my parents would have about two hemorrhages each if they said something very personal about them. "

His constant ironic observations about what he finds, from teachers to false ones (the two, of course, are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

 

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