Catcher in the Rye 1951
Genre: social and psychological realism. Anti-hero, male initiation novel; Time of novel: two days in mid-December, 1949 ; Locale: eastern Pennsylvania and New York City; Point of view: first person, with limited reliability; Grade level: 10-12
1. Holden has difficulty "fitting in." How does this novel compare to the beginnings of traditional 19th century novels?
2. Holden finds that his idols have feet of clay or that they are "phonies." Give examples and explain. Is there a pattern here? Discuss. Are his views projections?
3. Explore Holdenís attitudes toward Stradlater as a projection of his own anxiety?
4. Trace Holden's reactions to Allie's death. How are Holden's conceptions of what a hero is, what a virgin is connected to Allie? Connect what you are observing to a discussion of the catcher's mitt episode.
5. How important is humor in this story? What does this imply about Salingerís view of the human condition?
6. Look closely at the image at the end of the novel where Holden recognizes that you have to let the kids on the carrousel reach for the gold ring. What does this mean?
7. Examine a few of the symbols in the novel. What does a car suggest to Holden? Why is Holden so curious about mummies in a museum?
8. Explore Holdenís relationship to women.
9. Disappearance and erasure are two terms which crop up thoughout the book. Trace a few of the meanings and incidents where these occur.
10. Look carefully at the description of "catcher in the rye." Analyze the symbols in this image. What are they falling into? What does "rye" symbolize? Compare this to Burns's poem.