The Catcher in the Rye (J.D Salinger) FULL Revision Notes

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The Catcher in the Rye   -   J.D Salinger (1951)

1) Introduction     2) Character of Holden     3) Key Characters     4) Minor Characters     5) Themes     6) Relationships    7) Effects of the Environment    8) Language and Narrative Style    9) Narrative Structure   10) Episodes and quotations

The novel concerns three days in the life of Holden Caulfield, a troubled sixteen year old who has been expelled from three schools. It's told by Holden (first person narrative) who is  recovering from a mental breakdown in a Californian hospital and contains a series of flashbacks to earlier events in Holden's life.

**Previous events such as being expelled show Holden's behaviour was far more detrimental than others - perhaps one of the reasons why he gained negative attitudes to the outside world when others reacted to his behaviour*

When published the novel caused instant controversy due to its use of "bad" language and the shocking nature of some of its scenes. This was largely due to the fact that america, having just played a major part in winning world war two, and now believing itself the greatest country in the world, (a super power) was very suspicious of those who questioned America's society's greatness.

The novel is also viewed as relative to the 1950's rise of teenage rebellion and social comment (Rock n' Roll). The story has an urban setting. Based in New York city, it relies much on realism (landmarks, buildings) but the falsity and corruption ('phonies') comes to represent all that Holden views as bad in the world.

*Influences Holden's negative attitudes to the world*

It is around Central Park that Holden finds his only moments of real happiness. This area and the museums around it, represent the past to him. Holden wishes to return to his childhood, before his brother's death, to a time free of stress and his own problems.

*These places are symbolic in the novel - they represent the only places Holden finds true happiness. He constantly refers to his stress-free childhood, before his problems began and before his brother Allie's death - perhaps another trigger to his mental breakdown. The park is one of the only places that doesn't show change or age, Holden's immaturity is often emphasised when he questions where the ducks go in winter - showing his idiosyncratic nature*

 He wishes to find an answer to his own problems and searches for last innocence and moral values. 

*Again the park portrays innocence - the childish innocence Holden is looking for. He believes it is one of the only places that is not affected by the hate and cruelness of the outside world, full of 'phonies' and his feeling of isolation*

Character of Holden

The main character, we see the novel through his eyes, an idiosyncratic perspective.

He is a sixteen year old adolescent on the verge of adulthood. His witty style of language comes across as typical…




Thank you soooo much finally found some Catcher stuff! :)

Really appreciate is.

Katie Briggs


I no! there is hardly anything for catcher in the rye!

Sophie Woodburn


these notes are so helpful! thank you for sharing them :)

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