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The Catcher In the Rye

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Why does the book begin with "If you want to know the truth "?
Holden's disillusionment with a world indifferent to ideas. And he doesn't think anyone cares about him.
Why is D.B. mentioned here at the beginning?
D.B. represents the necessity of giving into the world. Holden grieves that his brother has made an unworthy use of his talent.
What is important in the school motto at Pencey?
Holden doesn't want to fit in and wants to be independent.
Why had Holden "forgotten" to mention his dismissal from Pencey?
Holden doesn't care or is pretending to not care.
What does Holden mean when he says that Pencey is full of "crooks"?
He says Pencey is a microcosm of the world outside.
What is significant in Holden's remark about Mrs. Spencer opening the door herself?
A signal of Holden's upper-class background & that they can't afford a maid.
What is the importance of Holden's confrontation with Mr. Spencer?
It provides insight both into Holden's personality and into the world with which he must cope. Mixed feelings of compassion & disgust
What is the significance of Spencer's question about Holden's telling his parents?
He has never been able to communicate with them. Holden doesn't talk to his parents at all.
Why is the ambiguity of Holden's age stressed?
He acts like a kid, but possesses traces of age-old wisdom.
What is important about Holden's exam paper?
Shows his irresponsibility & inability to cope with the superficial, practical matters of life. It also foreshadows Holden's trip to the museum.
Why does Holden characterize himself as a liar?
Holden is an introspective person, and in looking inward he finds suggestions that he himself may be contaminated by the human race. He doesn't want anyone to say it about him so he goes ahead & puts it out there.
What is the significance of the deflation of Ossenburger?
He says Ossenburger is the living definition of phoniness
What is the importance of Holden's new hat?
It offers him protection & comfort.
What is signified when Holden misplaces the foils?
Holden's inability to cope with practical affairs. Holden lost the swords, and he is unarmed and defenseless against a world which seeks to destroy the idealism of his soul.
How is Stradlater characterized?
A secret slob; He is a pretty boy on the outside & a secret slob on the inside
Why does Holden enjoy the snowball fight?
There is no conflict; snow is a reflection of purity and a perfect world.
What is the importance of his composition about Allie?
Allie's personality reflects the beautiful innocence of childhood and innocence; he reflects the importance of preserved childhood.
What are Holden's fears about Jane and Stradlater?
He fears that Stradlater has corrupted Jane.
What is Holden's first reaction after the fight?
He immediately gropes around to find his hunting cap; he goes out to face the world
Why does Holden consider going into a monastery?
It would seclude him from society.
What emotions do the new skates create?
It depressed him because they were the wrong kind of skates & it shows how much his parents really know him
What is the significance of the brain surgery story?
It foreshadows he is going to go crazy.
What is Holden's first act upon arriving in New York?
He goes immediately into a phone booth to desperately talk and establish contact.
What is signified by the ducks in the lagoon?
change & being forced out of their home like Holden & looking for a place to go
Why does Holden give such detailed descriptions of the hotel rooms seen from his own window?
It shows his fear of the adult world.
What is Holden's attitude toward sex?
He is interested in it but it scares him.
What is implied in Holden's criticism of Ernie?
He thinks he's a phony. His criticism extends to D.B. They have both been corrupted by their willingness to ponder to the wishes of society
Why does Holden accept the assignation (secret meeting) with Sunny?
He thinks he has the courage to cross the threshold into the adult world.
Why is he unable to consummate any physical act with Sunny?
An imperceptible fear of the act which will remove him forever from the security of innocence inhibits him. He is also moved by pity for Sunny, he cannot take advantage of Sunny. He is incapable of "using" others.
What is Holden's attitude toward the nuns?
He feels respect and admiration because they seem genuinely good and preserved with purity in their hearts
What is the importance of the monologue about Catholicism?
Holden sees religion as a barrier between people
What is implied by the remembrances of Jane at this point?
The image of Jane acts as a contrast to the painful encounter with Sally. The bitterness of the episode is ameliorated by a retreat into pleasant memories of Jane.
What is implied in the reference to Gatsby?
The choice of Gatsby as hero gives insight into Holden. Gatsby was destroyed by a world whose material values Holden scorns
What is the significance of Luce?
Luce foreshadows his encounters with Mr. Antolini
What is the first impression given of Phoebe?
Phoebe is introduced in the utter vulnerability of sleep and Holden delights in her artless charm
How are the elder Caulfields depicted?
They never appear on the scene, only the mom's voice. Mom is a nervous type who hasn't "gotten over" Allie's death. Mr. Caufield is too involved in his career to engage in family.
What conclusion does Phoebe draw from Holden's criticism of Pencey?
She knows that Pencey is really a microcosm. Reflects alienation from the real world
What is Holden's answer?
He tries to alleviate Phoebe's distress by finding something he likes about the world; Allle, the nuns, and James Castle. Says that he wants to be a "catcher in the rye" which represents the fall into maturity (he wants to preserve children's innocence)
Why does Holden give Phoebe his hunting cap?
She is innocent and loving
What is the importance of Mr. Antolini's advice?
He says in order to learn from something you need to experience it
What is the significance of Antolini's caress?
1) taken as a homosexual stroke (upsets Holden) 2) Mr. Antolini is Holden's final recourse in the adult world From this point on there is no adult whom Holden will trust. No segment of society which holds out hope.
What is Holden's condition at this point?
Holden is experiencing the symptoms of complete collapse. He is physically and emotionally exhausted and is spirituallyu gutted. He visualizes himself falling into oblivion, and only the memory of Allie which saves him. He wants to move to the west to become a deaf- mute.
Why does he write Phoebe?
She is his only link with life, Phoebe is the only message in the book that definitely gets through
What prompts Holden's reactions to the foul words?
he is truly a "catcher in the rye" and is trying to protect children (the world is too corrupt)
How does Phoebe identify with Holden?
She will join him as the searches for meaning in a meaningless world, even if it necessitates the kind of life-in-death he has fantasized in the West.
Why does Holden refuse to take Phoebe along?
they must both stay and face the reality of living. Nothing else could have the enormity of his exile into a state without words, feeling or ties to humanity
What new knowledge does Holden gain watching Phoebe on the carousel?
The turning point of the book; the loss of innocence was inevitable and desirable, the quest for meaning and the ability to live, help Holden with the potential sterility of adult life.
What is Holden's final ironic comment?
The book begins with his yearning to communicate and ends with his regret that he has
Name some themes of the Catcher in the Rye.
1. alienation as a form of self protection
2. painfulness of growing up
3. phoniness
What is important in the school motto at Pencey? Why is it called a microcosm?
It's a total reflection of the outside world to Holden
What is important about Holden's reference to DB?
He's a sell out to society; he has adapted society's norms
Why does Holden call himself a liar?
He's getting it out first so nobody can say it about him
Importance of Holden's meeting with Mr.Spencer
He has compassion & disgust towards him
Know significance of Holden misplacing the foils
symbolizes him losing his defenses against the world
Why does Holden enjoy the snowball fight?
He's in nature
Importance of Holden's composition about Allie?
It shows the innocence of Ally & how he was taken to soon
Significance of Holden going into a monastery?
it is a secluded world & doesn't have any phonies
Holden's relationship with parents & "new skates"
He has mixed feelings; shows his parents doesn't know him
What is the importance of Holden's deflation of Ossenberger?
He thinks it represents total phoniness
What is Holden's attitude towards sex?
He thinks it's desirable but he doesn't want to lose his innocence
What is significant about Jane?
Jane is pure & innocent while sally has a material mind; she is never in the book just talked about
Why can't Holden do anything with Sunny?
He doesn't want to corrupt himself
What is important about Holden's monologue about catholicism?
He admires the abstinent lifestyle; thinks religion forms a barrier between people & has no respect for it
What is the meaning of the title of the book?
Catcher in a field of Rye who wants to protect children.