The Books Guide

Books from libraries and publishers worldwide


The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Written by J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye is a novel published in 1945. The book tells the story of a teenager who is looking for his true self and finally finds it. In the same time, Holden Caulfield, the hero of the book, has become an iconic figure for teenage rebellion.

Plot Summary

Almost all action happens in December, 1949. Holden Caulfield has just been expelled from Pencey Prep School because of his poor academic results. He goes to New York by train and decides not to tell his parents what happened. Arrived in New York, he checks in at the dilapidated Edmond Hotel instead of going home. At the hotel, Edmond meets Sunny, a young prostitute, but he only wants to talk to her. There are some financial issues between Edmond and Maurice, Sunny`s pimp.

Holden goes out on a date with Sally, an old girlfriend, but she refuses to run away with him. After three days drinking and feeling lonely, Holden sneaks into his parent`s home in order to see his sister, Phoebe, a role model for him. He tells Phoebe he imagines as the guardian of many children playing in a large rye field.

The action continues with a curious meeting between Holden and Mr. Antolini, his English teacher. Holden decides to go west and his little sister wants to follow him there, but the boy refuses to take her in the journey. Seeing Phoebe upset, Holden decides to stay. While Phoebe happily riding a carousel, Holden realized his dream to become the catcher in the rye cannot become reality and he needs help. In the end, Holden mentions he will start school this autumn and alludes being in a mental hospital.

Themes and style

The major themes are alienation as a form of self protection, the painfulness of growing up and the phoniness of adulthood. Other themes are relationships, intimacy, sexuality, lying, innocence and deception. The novel is written in first person, as a confession.

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