Catcher In The Rye

A Web Quest By: Jill Malinowski and Justine Neill

Catcher's Influence

When analyzing J.D. Salinger's novel, The Catcher In The Rye, one can determine the novel had an impact on the teenage society of the 1950's and 1960's. The story of a troubled teen interested people of all ages. Teenagers enjoyed this book because it was incomparable to the other books at the time. They felt that they could relate because themes in this book include; depression, failing, running away, figuring yourself out, and fake people. All or at least one of these themes can be related to a teenager.

What lasting influence has the Catcher in the Rye had on American culture?

Over the years the Catcher in the Rye has been very influential on Amerian culture, many people (especially teens/young adults) can relate to his writting because in his writting he shows how hard it is to find yourself and figure out who you are and what you want to do in life.

What other examples of the "Holden" archetype have you seen in modern media?

In the Perks of Being a Wallflower a character named Charlie has the same way of thinking through out the book he is trying to figure out who he is as he grows up and becomes an adult. "The Catcher in the Rye,” just like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” relates the story of adolescent Holden, who is navigating through life, finding out more about himself and the world that surrounds him, observing and interpreting it in its own way. I couldn’t help but notice how similar Holden and Charlie were, both being outcasts. Charlie is the eponymous wallflower, the one who is not noticed but sees everything that happens. He tries to understand life from his own experience, which is also Holden’s case. Even though the time period is different, the reality is the same,"(Panther).

What trends do you see in the types of people who are drawn to the novel? Why could this be?

The standard audience for The Catcher In The Rye is mostly teenagers. This is because the story can be related to obstacles that teens face. The book is about a rebellious teen that deals with depression, "phonies", self hate, and failing.

Why do you think The Catcher in the Rye is so constantly referenced? Why does it hold such a central role in our culture? Is this role deserved?

There was not any other book like Catcher In The Rye. "Mark David Chapman, the 25-year-old assassin of John Lennon, was arrested clutching a copy of The Catcher in the Rye and had penned "This is my statement" inside the book," (Ball). Chapman was mentally insane, and tried to change his name to Holden Caulfield. We think the reason people reacted to this book this way is because it was considered one of the first rebellious books of the 60's. "He later explained in a handwritten letter to The New York Times that "this extraordinary book holds many answers" and that "all of my efforts will be devoted toward" getting people to read it,"(Ball).

How are presidential attempted assination and the murder of John Lennon associated to The Catcher In The Rye?

In the novel the main character seems to show a lot of self-hate. We believe that in order to take someone elses life you must hate yours. "Mark David Chapman is known to have been obsessed with the book (he apparently thought Lennon had become a "phony", (Snopes). In the novel Holden calls multiple people a "phony", and he shows no trust or respect for them. Mark Chapman saw that Lennon started changing with the more fame he was getting.

Why and how does Catcher fit into the banned book classification?

'It was originally banned due to obsence language, sexuality, and because it wasn't "appropriate" for youth," (Askville). In this novel Holden demonstrates inappropriate behavior for teens. Holden swears in just about every other sentence, so we could see why people would be upset that the youth is reading the book because they could rebel.

Have perceptions of the novel changed throughout time? If so, how?

YES. Back when this novel was released it was obscene to speak of sex, and now people talk about it like its nothing. Most would blame the change in the media, and how music and movies are becoming more sexual every year. Teens these days are more rebellious towards rules and laws than they were in the sixties. Also movies and music are making teens think that drugs and sex are cool.
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What were some of the reviews on Catcher when the novel first appeared in bookstores? Why did people feel this way about the novel?

"a beautifully deft, professional performer who gives us a chance to catch quick, half-amused, half-frightened glimpses of ourselves and our contemporaries, as he confronts us with his brilliant mirror images" (Stevenson 217). This is a positive review on the novel, this person praises Salinger for writing this book.

"I first read The Catcher in the Rye in high school, probably around 1985. It was surrounded in all it’s controversial glory even then, replete with profanity, teenage sex (or should I say sexual frustration, drinking and overall typical adolescent angst-filled self absorption," (BlogSpot). This shows a negative review on Catcher In The Rye.

Why do readers and critics feel so much animosity towards Salinger’s characters?

"I shared Caulfield's contempt for "phonies" as well as his sense of being different and his loneliness, but he seemed to me just about as phony as those he criticized as well as an unregenerate whiner and egotist," (Yardley). Critics are hostile towards Holden's character because he's such a hypocrite. Holden says he hates phonies, but at the same time he shows that he's the biggest phony of all. For example Holden wants to act like an adult but in reality, he's just a kid. Also he shows similar qualities to the people he considers a phony.

Text Analysis

1. "When I was all set to go, when I had my bags and all, I stood for a while next to the stairs and took a last look down the goddam corridor. I was sort of crying. I don't know why. I put on my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my goddam voice, "Sleep tight, ya morons!" I'll bet I woke up every bastard on the whole floor. Then I got the hell out." Page 52 Chapter 7

In this part of the book Holden shows multiple characteristics. For one, he shows that he is a rebellious teen. Most teenagers wouldn't have the guts to pack up and leave school without telling their friends. Mostly because they have no where to go and don't want to upset their parents. However Holden doesn't tell his parents and doesn't seem to care what his parents think anymore. In the 50's Catcher In The Rye was banned for multiple reasons, but one of them was teen rebellion. This is a prime example of Holden showing that he is a rebellious teenager.

2. Sex is something I really don't understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules for myself, and then I break them right away. Last year I made a rule that I was going to quit horsing around with girls that, deep down, gave me a pain in the ass. I broke it, though, the same week I made it – the same night, as a matter of fact. I spent the whole night necking with a terrible phony named Anne Louise Sherman. Sex is something I just don't understand. I swear to God I don't." Page 63 Chapter 9

In the 1950s it was considered to be inappropriate if teens talked of sex. In this part of the book Holden casually discusses his thoughts on sex and his understanding of it. There are multiple reasons that this book was banned. These reasons include sex, vulgarity, and rebellion. Holden shares that he doesnt understand sex, this to us shows that he is not as mature as he trys to be. Holden is constantly trying to act like an adult, when really he's a teenager who acts like a child. For example Holden is childish when it comes to trying to buy drinks, whenever he is denied he throws a fit just as a child would.

Work Cited

"Assassins prefer 'Catcher in the Rye.'" N.p., 11 May 2005. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <>.

Lomazoff, Eric. "salinger.gif The Praises and Criticisms of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye." Eric Lomazoff, 1996. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <>.

"Why I Hate 'The Catcher in the Rye.'" Blog Spot. N.p., 16 Dec. 2007. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <>.

Yardley, Jonathan. "J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, Aging Gracelessly." The Washington Post. N.p., 4 Oct. 2004. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <>.

Zora. "why was catcher in the rye banned?" amazon, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <>.


1. The audience Salinger intended to reach was teenagers. T/F

2. Why can teenagers relate to the book Catcher in the Rye?

3. The book Catcher in the Rye was "the first book of its time". T/F

4. Who murdered John Lennon and what was he holding when he committed the murder?

5. In the book Catcher in the Rye, Holden likes phonies. T/F

6. What are two reasons the book was banned?

7. Perceptions of the book have improved over time. T/F

8. Why have perceptions of the book changed?

9. When first released the book got many good reviews from critics. T/F

10. The character Holden was a hypocrite when it came to talking about phonies. T/F


1. True.

2. Most can connect it to events in their own life.

3. True.

4. Mark David Chapman he was holding a copy of Catcher in the Rye.

5. False.

6. Obscene language and sexuality.

7. False.

8. In the '50s that was the first time that teens started acting out, now teen rebellion is more common.

9. False.

10. True.