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The Catcher in the Rye
Transcript of The Catcher in the Rye
Ackley is known as the annoying kid with poor hygiene and bad personal habits. Despite his judgmental characteristics, Holden shows sympathy towards Ackley and invites him to the movies when Stradlater goes on a date. When Ackley makes a comment on Holden's hat, he responds with "This is a people shooting hat. I shoot people in this hat". Holden does not literally "shoot people", but figuratively. This quote is a representation of his cynical behavior, and how he is always mentally criticizing the people he encounters.
"I slept in the garage the night he died, and I broke all the goddam windows with my fist, just for the hell of it. ... It was a very stupid thing to do, I'll admit, but I hardly didn't even know I was doing it, and you didn't know Allie." -Holden
Holden also experiences conflict with his roommate Stradlater. Holden gets into a fight with Stradlater because he does not respect his memories of Allie. He is also afraid that Stradlater may have used his old friend Jane Gallagher. Stradlater becomes annoyed when Holden questions him about his date with Jane, which leads to him punching Holden in the face.
Holden encounters conflict with the big "hot-shot" at Pencey, Stradlater.
That same night, Holden decides to leave for New York. He packs his bags and before leaving says "Sleep tight, ya morons!". After a train ride into the city Holden wants to make a call, particularly to Jane, but can't seem to bring himself to it. This again shows Holden's internal conflict within himself and his disconnection with relationships. It is clear at this point that Holden has desire for human contact, but is afraid to show any real feelings towards others.
The Catcher in the Rye,
tells the story
of sixteen year old Holden Caulfield and his adventures through New York City after he is kicked out of Pencey Prep. The story features a series of events that Holden must face all while he is trying to find his own identity and purpose in the world.
And so it begins....
"Since 1888 we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men. Strictly for the birds. They don't do any damn more molding at Pencey than they do at any other school." -Holden
Holden reminisces of Allie while writing Stradlater's English composition.
Holden's judgmental and hypocritical personality is quickly revealed as he criticizes almost everyone and everything around him. This quote represents a complete contrast of Holden's character, as he is neither "splendid" or "clear-thinking".
Mr. Spencer tells Holden that "life is a game". Holden's refusal to "play by the rules" reveals the theme of struggling between childhood and adulthood and the painfulness of growing up. Holden believes the adult world to be "phony". It also shows how he feels isolated and on the "other side", as if the world is against him.
Holden starts by talking about Pencey, which is located in Angerstown, Pennsylvania.
After leaving the school football game, Holden goes to visit Mr. Spencer, his old history teacher who is very ill.
"Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules." -Mr. Spencer
"If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right-I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there are no hot-shots, then what's a game about it? Nothing. No game." -Holden
Upon returning to his room, Holden finally finds some alone time to sit down and read while wearing his hunting hat, but is soon interrupted by Ackley.
"Up home we wear a hat like that to shoot deer in, for Chrissake," he said. "That's a deer shooting hat." "Like hell it is...This is a people shooting hat," ..."I shoot people in this hat." -Ackley & Holden
Before Stradlater goes out on his date, he asks Holden to do him a favor and write his English composition. Holden ends up writing about Allie's baseball mitt, which he had covered in poems. Holden's younger brother Allie died from leukemia prior to the start of the novel. Holden's inability to deal with Allie's death remains the main reason for his internal conflict. Since Allie's death, Holden's feelings of sorrow and loss have been eating him from the inside out.
"I went over and pulled it right out of his goddam hand. Then I tore it up. ... I just threw the pieces in the wastebasket. Then I lay down on my bed, and we both didn't say anything for a long time." -Holden
After catching a train into the city, Holden stops at a phone booth to make a call.
"Then I thought of giving Jane Gallagher's mother a buzz, and find out when Jane's vacation started, but I didn't feel like it." -Holden
"Sex is something I just don't understand. I swear to God I don't." -Holden
Holden's struggle with intimacy is further shown when he gets to the hotel. He tries to call up Faith Cavendish, a girl that he heard of from a guy at a party, to arrange a date. This does not transpire when she tells him that she has to get her beauty sleep. While he experiences many encounters with women during this part of the novel, Holden still fails to establish a sexual connection with them and come to terms with the concept of sexuality.
Holden strives to build relationships, but his fear of sexual interaction continues to isolate him.
After returning from a night of drinking, Holden encounters conflict with a prostitute named Sunny and her pimp Maurice. This forces Holden to react to situations in the real world once he realizes he is in danger. Sunny represents another attempt by Holden to form relationships, and how the tension between his sexuality and innocence is becoming more defined. Holden is too scared to call Jane, and to sleep with Sunny, so he turns to isolating himself which only makes his loneliness worse.
"Then he smacked me. I didn't even try to get out of the way or duck or anything. All I felt was this terrific punch in my stomach." -Holden
Holden gets punched by Maurice when he refuses to pay more than he was told.
"I know you're supposed to feel pretty sexy when somebody gets up and pulls their dress over their head, but I didn't. ... I felt much more depressed than sexy." -Holden
Holden buys a record called "Little Shirley Beans" for Phoebe but ends up accidentally dropping and breaking it.
While walking down Broadway, Holden stops to buy his sister Phoebe a record. Holden is always talking and thinking of his little sister. He believes that she is the only one who truly listens and understands him. Although she is young, Phoebe knows that Holden is the cause for his own faults and his immaturity angers her.
The next morning, Holden runs into two nuns. Holden's encounter with the nuns shows his change in thought, and his view of organizations being "phony". When one of them starts talking about Romeo and Juliet, Holden forgets all about his negative opinions on organized religion. He gives them ten dollars as a charitable contribution, but regrets not giving them more after they leave. What Holden means by this quote is that money is often the cause of ones troubles, and that it makes him depressed.
"Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell." -Holden
The nuns are not as phony as Holden expected. He begins to have a change of thought.
"You don't like anything that's happening." -Phoebe
"You don't like any schools. You don't like a million things. You don't." -Phoebe
Before his date with Sally Hayes, Holden visits the Museum of Natural History. The quote represents the theme of the stuggles of growing up, and Holdens inability to deal with change. Holden wants to remain frozen in time like the displays in the museum.
Holden visits the museum where he would go as a child.
"The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody'd move.... Nobody'd be different. The only thing that would be different would be you." -Holden
After the matinée, Holden takes Sally ice-skating at Radio City.
"The terrible part, though, is that I meant it when I asked her. That's the terrible part. I swear to God I'm a madman." -Holden
"I know he's dead! Don't you think I know that? I can still like him, though, can't I? Just because somebodys dead, you don't just stop liking them, for God's sake..." -Holden
At this point, Holden's behavior is an obvious indicator that he is emotionally unstable. He begins to rant about the "phonies" at Pencey and how alienated he feels. Sally has to give him constant reminders to stop yelling. His ideas become even more far-fetched when he tries to convince Sally to run away with him. Holden's ideas of running away show his desperate need for love and his desire to escape to this "fantasy world" where he can be away from society.
Holden sneaks back to the apartment to visit Phoebe. He tries to explain to her why he was kicked out and the things he doesn't like about Pencey. Phoebe accuses him of hating everything, but he says that one of the only things he likes is Allie. This again shows Holden's mental connection to Allie and how his mind is always occupied with thoughts of childhood.
Holden calls Mr. Antolini, his old English teacher from Elkton Hills. Mr. Antolini offers him to stay the night at his house before returning home on Wednesday. Holden looks to Mr. Antolini for sympathy about his issues, but he tells Holden that he is worried that he will one day make a "terrible fall". He lectures Holden about finding a purpose in life and making the right choices. Holden is awoken later that night by Mr. Antolini petting his head. This experience leaves him startled and confused, and represents the single event that causes Holden's character to crack under the pressure of sexual tension. Holden's departure from Mr. Antolini's house remains the climax of the novel.
"I have a feeling that you're riding for some terrible, terrible fall. ...The whole arrangement's designed for men who, at some point or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn't supply them with... So they gave up looking." -Mr. Antolini
Holden ends up sleeping on a bench in Grand Central Station. The next day he goes to Phoebe's school to give her a note telling her to meet him at the Museum of Art so he can give her back the money she lent him. Holden notices nasty things written on the school walls and tries to rub them off before any of the children see. Holden's irritation by the writings shows how he is protective over the innocence of the children, especially Phoebe.
"...While I was sitting down I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody'd written "F*** you" on the wall... I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them...what it meant, and how they'd all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days." -Holden
Holden believes he is responsible for the protection of the children and their innocence.
Phoebe meets Holden at the museum with her suitcase. After begging him to let her run away with him, he decides that he is going to stay. The closing scene shows Phoebe on the carousel at the zoo. The site of Phoebe going around and around brings Holden great joy and visions of childhood. Holden's decision to not go on the ride shows his final acceptance of the adult world and that he is grown up.
"You ride once, too, this time," she said. "No, I'll just watch ya. I think I'll just watch." -Phoebe & Holden
"I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth." -Holden
The Hunting Hat - Holden uses the hunting hat to symbolize that he is an individual, and separate from everyone else. The hat also represents Holden's self-isolation and how uses the hat as a form of protection.
The Museum of Natural History - The museum symbolizes Holden's ideal world where nothing ever changes. It represents Holden's inability to let go of childhood and enter the adult world.
The ducks and pond in Central Park - Holden's frequent questioning of the ducks symbolizes his curious child-like side. Since the pond is "partly frozen and partly not frozen", it symbolizes how Holden is stuck in the middle of transitioning from childhood to adulthood.
"...I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all."
This is my favorite passage not only because it is the main reason for the title, but because it holds a major metaphorical meaning to the story and Holden's character. Holden's image of catching the children before going over the cliff reveals his fantasy of childhood and saving them from "falling" into adulthood.
I think the intended audience for The Catcher in the Rye is anyone over the age of sixteen, or in other words a mature audience. Especially those who are "coming-of-age" because the novel deals with issues that many teenagers can relate to. The novel would not be suitable for anyone under the age of sixteen due to some explicit language and complex themes that some may not understand.