- Slides: 62
“The Catcher in the Rye” Higher Prose
The Title The title is taken from Holden’s misinterpretation of a Robert Burns poem/song, “Comin thro the rye”. It is a relevant title because: • The poem deals with a romance and loss of innocence. Holden wants to protect children from losing their innocence. • Casual sex is a theme and temptation in the book as well as the poem. • His misinterpretation of the song is important because he realises that he can’t rescue or prevent relationships with others and he must learn to connect, share and support others in his life. • It reminds the reader Holden’s tendency to fantasise.
• Comin Thro the Rye by Robert Burns O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body, Jenny's seldom dry; She draigl't a' her petticoattie Comin thro' the rye. Chorus: Comin thro the rye, poor body, Comin thro the rye, She draigl't a'her petticoatie, Comin thro the rye! Gin a body meet a body Comin thro the rye, Gin a body kiss a body, [r] Need a body cry? Gin a body meet a body Comin thro the glen, Gin a body kiss a body, Need the warld ken?
Context Setting: • The majority of the novel takes place in New York City during post war America. The journey begins just a week before Holden's Christmas break. Background: • A young man, Holden Caulfield, is in a mental institution where he is recovering from a recent mental breakdown. The entire novel is a flashback of the events that had led up to his emotional destruction. The flashback begins with Holden leaving the boarding school he had been attending because of lacklustre grades. Holden had been sent to boarding school by his parents.
Major Issues • Death - Death is a major issue in this novel because of the death of his brother Allie. It is the death of his brother which fuels his desire to save children from growing up and becoming corrupt. Holden uses his brother as a model for innocence. • Dealing with Others - Holden has a very hard time dealing with people that are not known to him. He feels that most people are phonies and finds it hard to open himself up to others. He is very insecure as well as being very immature.
• Immaturity in sexual relationships - Holden's immaturity is shown when he invites the prostitute, Sunny, up to his hotel room for sex. When she arrives he cannot go through with it. Holden also rarely had a girlfriend for an extended period of time because of his fear of commitment. • Resentment towards parents - Holden disliked his parents because they sent him away to a private school. He thinks that they feel he is useless and give up on him and send him away. He also wouldn't face his parents until the very end of the novel. • Holden's Hypocrisy - Holden calls other's phonies but in actuality, Holden is the biggest phony in the novel. He despises those who value material things but he himself prides his possessions.
Some have argued… • As countercultural revolt began to grow during the 1950 s and 1960 s, “The Catcher in the Rye” was frequently read as a tale of an individual’s alienation within a heartless world. Holden seemed to stand for young people everywhere, who felt themselves beset on all sides by pressures to grow up and live their lives according to the rules, to disengage from meaningful human connection, and to restrict their own personalities and conform to a bland cultural norm. Many readers saw Holden Caulfield as a symbol of pure, unfettered individuality in the face of cultural oppression.
Making Notes • You will be reading some of this novel at home, and therefore it is your responsibility to make notes • You should be looking for quotations in the novel that reveal something about: – Characterisation and Holden Caulfield – Narrative style and how various other characters are presented from Holden’s p. o. v – Holden’s relationships with women – Symbolism ( we will discuss as we read) – Themes such as alienation, loss of innocence, the superficiality of the adult world, youth, rebellion against society, mental instability – Language and Holden’s nihilism (negativity) – Plot points and turning points (including an epiphany near the end)
Chapter 1 – We meet Holden • Holden introduces himself • Holden is expelled from school • What is your first impression of Holden?
Chapter 2 – Holden’s School History • We find out about Mr Spencer • Holden’s parents don’t know he’s been expelled • More on Holden’s background is revealed • What is Holden’s attitude to school? • How does Holden feel about his parents finding out he’s been expelled?
Symbol- The Ducks in central park The ducks symbolise Holden’s journey to maturity. His contemplation of the ducks shows a younger side to Holden on his quest to grow up. The ducks help him understand that change isn’t permanent: the ducks leave, but they return, thus showing the circular nature of life.
Chapter 3 – Holden and his schoolmates • Holden tells us of some of the books he’s read • We meet Ackley and Stradlater • How does Holden relate to people his own age?
Symbol – the red hunting hat Holden's attachment to the hunting hat can be seen in his early description of it: "This is a people-shooting hat. I shoot people in this hat. " Perhaps the "hunting" Holden does is one not of killing people, but of criticising them. This can be seen as his way of separating himself from society. Later in the novel, when he gives the hat to Phoebe, it may be symbolic that Holden has chosen not to separate himself from society any longer.
Chapter 4 – Holden and Jane Gallagher • Holden talks to Stradlater • We learn that Holden is talented at English • Holden tells us about Jane Gallagher • What is ironic about Holden telling us he hates the movies? • What can you say about Holden’s fantasies? • What is Holden worried about when Stradlater tells his he’s dating Jane? • How does Holden want to remember Jane? What does he refer to?
Chapter 5 – A tragedy in Holden’s family • We learn about life at the boarding school • Holden tells us about his dead younger brother • Holden criticises the movies and Ackley – and yet he asks Ackley if he would like to see a film. How would you describe Holden’s personality? • How did the death of his younger brother affect Holden? • Does Holden have a non-cynical side to him?
Symbol-Allie’s baseball mitt It represents Holden's love for his deceased brother as well as Allie's authentic uniqueness. Allie covered the glove with poems written in green ink so that he would have something to read when things got boring in the baseball field. This mitt is not a catcher's mitt; it is a fielder's glove. Holden has shown it to only one person outside the family: Jane Gallagher.
Chapter 6 – A quarrel • Holden’s essay is not to Stradlater’s liking • Holden is unnerved when he finds out Stradlater is dating a girl he knew • They fight • What are the two things that Stradlater does that upsets Holden so much? • What is Holden most worried about?
Chapter 7 – Holden leaves Pencey prep • Holden goes to see Ackley but is unable to confide in him • Holden leaves the school • Do you think Holden has any real friends? • Can you see any similarities between Holden and Ackley? • Look through this chapter for instances where Holden describes feeling lonely
Realism in the novel • Realism in literature – writing in such a way that represents things as common sense perceives them to be. Realism focuses on individuals rather than stereotypes • Think about – Narrative style – Language – Dialogue – Holden’s characterisation – Relationships
Section 2 • The Edmont Hotel
Chapter 8 – The train to New York • Holden meets Ernest Morrow’s mother • We hear more about Holden’s tendency to lie • Why do you think Holden lies to Mrs Morrow? • How does Holden feel about lying? • What is ironic about Holden calling people ‘phonies’? • How does Holden act when he meets an adult?
Chapter 9 – Holden arrives in New York • Holden takes a taxi to the Edmont Hotel • Scenes from the hotel bedrooms are described • Holden phones a ‘stripper’ • What do you think the ducks represent to Holden? • What are Holden’s views of women and sex?
Chapter 10 – Holden in the Lavender Room • Phoebe is described by Holden • Holden meets three girls in the nightclub • The girls tease Holden • What does Phoebe symbolise? • Do you think Holden looks as old as he tells us? • Think about what Holden reveals to us and what he says to the people he meets
Chapter 11 – Holden’s memories of Jane Gallagher • Holden reminisces about Jane • He takes a taxi to another nightclub • Why do you think it is important to Holden that he didn’t kiss Jane on the mouth? • What aspect of Holden is Salinger revealing to us when he adds in Holden’s memories of Jane? • What does Jane represent to Holden?
Chapter 12 – Holden about town • Holden takes another taxi ride • Ernie and the nightclub are described • We learn about Holden being depressed • How does this taxi journey differ from the previous one? • How would you describe Holden’s attitude in this chapter? Nihilism • Compare the way Holden feels about the club to everyone else – what is Salinger trying to tell you?
Chapter 13 – Holden and the Prostitute • Holden becomes more depressed • Holden has an encounter with a young prostitute • Why do you think Holden accepts Maurice’s offer? Think about how he would like to appear to others. • How does Salinger develop Holden’s feelings in this chapter? • What is Holden most concerned about when he meets Sunny?
Chapter 14 – Holden is beaten up • Holden talks to Allie • Maurice and Sunny get more money from Holden • We read more of Holden’s fantasies • Why does Holden try to talk to his brother? • How do you feel about Holden’s reaction to Maurice and Sunny robbing him? • Why does Holden fantasise? What do his fantasies represent?
Start thinking about • • • Characterisation Key themes Setting Symbolism Narrative style and language Structure
Section 3 • Faces from the past
Chapter 15 – Holden makes a date • Holden makes a date with Sally Hayes and checks out of the Egmont Hotel • We learn something about his parents • Holden meets some nuns • Why do you think Holden will not phone Jane? • Why does Holden make a date with Sally Hayes instead? • What does Holden reveal about his parents? • What do we learn about Holden from how he responds to meeting the nuns?
Chapter 16 – More on Holden’s feelings • We learn why Holden admires the nuns • Holden hears a song • He buys a present for his sister and tickets for his date • What do you learn about Holden’s values from how he talks about charity and his parents? • How does Holden react to hearing the boy singing the song? • What do you notice about Holden and trying to get in touch with people from his past?
Chapter 17 – The date with Sally Hayes • Holden goes out with Sally Hayes • The date ends badly • How does Holden react to meeting Sally? • In what way does Holden try to reach out to Sally? • What do other characters notice about Holden’s behaviour that he doesn’t want to reveal to the reader? • Can Holden relate to anyone?
Chapter 18 – Holden sees a film • Holden phones Jane Gallagher again • He arranges to meet Carl Luce • He goes to a film and we learn more about D. B. • Do you think Holden will ever contact Jane? • Why do you think Holden keeps telling us that he dislikes the movies? What is it about Hollywood that he doesn’t like? • How can Holden’s comments about joining the army be seen as a way of rebelling against society?
Chapter 19 – The meeting with Carl Luce • We read a long conversation between Holden and Carl Luce • It is revealed that Carl once suggested that Holden went to a psychiatrist • Why do you think Holden chooses to visit his old student adviser? What do you think he is trying to achieve? • What evidence is there from this chapter that Holden is unstable? • Why do you think sexuality is so important to Holden?
Chapter 20 – A drunken night • Holden gets drunk and phones Sally Hayes • Phoebe’s present is broken • Holden gets more depressed • Why does Holden phone Sally? • Find evidence from this chapter of Holden’s fears and depression.
Chapter 21 – Phoebe and Holden • Holden sneaks into his Parents’ apartment • Phoebe talks to Holden and realises he’s been expelled again • What impression do you get of Phoebe from her conversation with Holden?
Chapter 22 – ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ • Holden has a long conversation with Phoebe • He remembers James Castle • He talks about being ‘a catcher in the rye’ • Why do you think Salinger has included references to both Ackley and James Castle? • What does ‘the catcher in the rye’ symbolise? • What does Holden reveal to the reader about his hopes? • What does Phoebe represent to Holden?
Chapter 23 – An evening with Phoebe • Holden arranges to visit Mr Antolini • Holden hides from his mother • He leaves the family apartment – Why do you think Holden wants to visit Mr Anotolini? – What is symbolic about Holden giving Phoebe his hat?
Chapter 24 – an upsetting encounter • Mr Antolini and Holden have a long conversation • Holden is upset by Mr Antolini – What do you make of Holden’s reaction to Mr Antolini? – How does Holden feel about adult behaviour in general?
Chapter 25 – the climax of Holden’s tale • Holden wanders the streets of New York • He visits the museum • Phoebe rides on a carrousel • How would you describe Holden’s mental state in this chapter? • What clues are there that Holden is now on the verge of a breakdown? (Think about physical as well as psychological)
Chapter 26 – more from the hospital bed • Holden tells us he’s finished what he wants to tell us • We find out he’s going back to school • Do we believe everything that Holden tells us at the end of the novel? • How can the structure of the novel be seen as a frame for a story?
Homework • Monday 7 th Jan - complete the novel and all notes • Wednesday 9 th Jan – complete 2010 past paper (the full paper except the final question if you are in Higher) • Monday 14 th Jan – third draft of your discursive essay (2 copies please). Use the booklet to help you! • We will be looking at your expressive piece this month
As the novel comes to an end. . • What do you think is significant about these quotations from chapter 25? How do they compare to Holden’s dream’s of becoming ‘the Catcher in the Rye”? • “If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn’t rub out even half the ‘Fuck you’ signs in the world. It’s impossible” • “All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she’d fall off the goddam horse, but I didn’t say anything or do anything. The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, but it’s bad if you say anything. ”
Structure • The story is told within a frame (he is actually in hospital re-telling a story) • The frame narrative is contained within chapter 1 and the final chapter • The story is episodic – it does not have a traditional ‘beginning, middle and end’. Instead it relates various significant episodes in Holden’s past and present life • Holden’s earlier life is told through flashbacks • The structure of the novel is told in four main sections. Each section has a climax which moves on the action.
Setting • Social context – Just after WW 2 America has become a ‘superpower’ Society is affluent and materialistic People believed America was the greatest country in the world • Beginning of the Cold War – people were suspicious of others were did not share their beliefs in America’s greatness • Does Caulfield rebel against his society? • Rise of the teenager • •
Setting • Physical setting – • Pency Prep – enclosed world of rules and values • New York City – seen as an ‘escape’ by Holden, but soon becomes a frightening place full or corruption and perversion. • The social world of nightclubs and bars are full of shallow, uncaring people with no real moral values • Apart from Phoebe, all the city dwellers that Holden encounters are flawed. • Central Park – the park is a green space in this vast, manmade environment. It could be seen as a metaphor for the open spaces Holden wishes to run away to. • The museums – represent the past, a time when things were easier
Themes • Pressure to conform with society – Holden is portrayed as an outsider who tries to fit in with society but cannot. This is the dilemma for Holden that leads to his breakdown. • Transition – in the novel Holden is at the age between childhood and adulthood. The difficulties he has making this transition are a principle part of the story. • Protecting innocence – Holden’s own innocence is exposed when he tries to act out his perceptions of adult behaviour – and this ends in disaster and depression. He can be seen as a young boy trying to cope in an adult world that he doesn’t understand. His wish to be ‘the Catcher in the Rye’ shows us his desire to protect the innocence of others – but when he is confronted with the graffiti he has to accept that this is unrealistic.
Themes • Fantasy and reality – Holden’s tendency to fantasise emphasises his childlike behaviour. His fantasies of living on a ranch show he is unable to face reality and that he still has the unrealistic dreams of a young adolescent. • Mental illness – the novel is told from a hospital of some kind, and throughout we learn of Holden’s mental breakdown. It is also revealed that he is not the only one suffering from a mental illness. • Holden’s Quest – unlike earlier literature, Holden’s quest does not involve defeating monsters but to find answers to his own problems – he is searching for his own lost innocence. His quest can be seen as complete when he seeks refuge in the innocent pleasure of the merry-goround at the end of the novel.
Homework • Complete the table you have been given on symbolism for tomorrow
Symbols Quotation Interpretation The Red Hunting Hat Holden uses his ‘people-shooting hat’ not for killing people, but for criticising them. This can be seen as his way of separating himself from society. Allie’s Mitt The can be seen as symbolic of Holden’s love for his brother. This is the one object of Allie’s that Holden has with him. As he looks upon his brother as symbolising innocence so, in turn, could the mitt. The Ducks Holden’s fear for the ducks represents his own fears for his own place in the adult world. Where does a person go when his environment can no longer support him? The Catcher in the Rye Holden’s desire to become the ‘catcher in the rye’ represents his dream to ‘save’ others from becoming corrupted by the adult world. The museum of natural history This represents a simpler time – before the influences of New York could corrupt it. it can also be seen as representing something that hasn’t changed – the museum is allowed to stay the same just as Holden wishes he could. The graffiti The writing on the wall of an elementary school represents Holden’s fears of innocence being corrupted. However after being confronted by this image, Holden is forced to accept that he cannot protect everyone.
Narrative Style and language • Spoken language features – We know that Salinger has used first person narration – but by also using ‘direct address’ at the beginning of the story he has made the reader feel that they are being spoken to personally. – Stock phrases are used as part of the informal language which gives us the impression of a particular individual’s ‘speech style’ – Digression – Holden suddenly digresses from one incident to an older memory. This again adds to the story’s realism. – Swearing – though tame now at the time these would be shocking. This could be seen as a sign of his rebellious nature. However his disgust at seeing ‘fuck you’ also reveals that he has certain morals towards language. – Exaggeration – this has been used by Salinger to add a humorous side to Holden and to emphasise his child-like qualities. Many of the exaggerations help the reader sympathise with this character.
Narrative Style and Language • "Old. . . " • The careful reader cannot fail to notice that almost every person's name which Holden references is prefixed by the word "Old, " as in "Old Stradlater" or "Old Phoebe. " This is a particularly ingenious device of Salinger's which reminds us that Holden is not living out the narrative, but retelling it. In the telling, everyone has become a distant, old memory. • Dialogue – rather than describing each character in a conventional way, Salinger makes use of dialogue to reveal aspects of them.
Characterisation • Signs that Holden is troubled: – – Expelled from 4 schools Apathy towards future Childhood trauma Tendency to fantasise • Holden’s view of adults as ‘phonies’ and his relationships with them • Key incidents where Holden tries to act like an adult. • Holden’s attitudes towards sex • Holden’s memories of Jane and Allie and his view of his little sister
Jane Gallagher • Although we never meet Jane she is an important character. • She represents a perfect memory that Holden cannot bare to spoil, so he is unable to talk to her. • As the novel progresses it becomes clear to the reader that Jane is the one person that might be able to relate to Holden and help him – yet he cannot bring himself to get in touch with her however desperate he is for her company.
Phoebe • The only character that Holden appears to relate to due to her innocence. However this is not really what Holden needs as she is only a ten year old girl and by the time he sees her it is clear to the reader that Holden needs help. • Through Phoebe we learn more of Holden’s family and his home life • Salinger also uses Phoebe to show, by comparison, just how immature Holden really is. Think about how she scolds him for being expelled.
Mr Antolini • Seems to have the greatest insight into Holden’s troubled future • Appears to care deeply about the welfare of Holden • Represents another adult letting him down
Relationships • Look again at the relationships between Holden and his peers. Why has Salinger included characters such as Stradlater? • Compare the characters Jane Gallagher and Sally Hayes and Holden’s relationships with them – how do they differ and why? What does this reveal to us about Holden?
Realism • Remember that realism is writing in such a way that represents things as common sense perceives them to be. Realism focuses on individuals rather than stereotypes • The fact that Salinger uses a real city with recognisable landmarks and buildings adds to our sense of realism. • The informal language used by Salinger creates a realistic character. At times we learn more about Caulfield through the reactions of others to him, or from when he accidentally reveals something whilst telling us something else. This mirrors how we would learn of people’s personalities in real life. • The digressions used also add to the sense of realism – we would not structure a conversation – but rather it would flow form one topic to another
Essay Tasks • Mention the following in your analysis: • characterisation, setting, key incident(s), narrative technique, symbolism, structure, climax, plot, dialogue • Remember that a theme/central concern is not a technique – the techniques help you understand theme! • You must show understanding of the central concerns throughout your essay
• Essay Tasks Choose a novel in which a character reaches a crisis point. – Explain briefly how this point is reached and go on to discuss how the character’s response to the situation extends your understanding of him/her. • Choose a novel in which one of the main characters is not in harmony with her/his society. – Describe the character’s situation and go on to discuss how it adds to your understanding of a central concern of the text. • Choose a novel in which the setting in time and/or place is a significant feature. – Show the writer’s use of setting contributes to your understanding of character and theme. • Choose a novel or short story in which the writer explores feelings of rejection or isolation or alienation. – Explain how the writer makes you aware of these feelings and go on to show this exploration enhances your appreciation of the text as a whole. • Choose a novel or short story in which there is a character who is not only realistic as a person but who has symbolic significance in the text as a whole. – Show the writer makes you aware of both aspects of the character.
Last Minute Advice • Make use of topic sentences – these will help you focus on answering the essay task • Also use the key words from both parts of the task in your analysis! • Try to mention at least one technique per quote when analysing
Tomorrow • Have the quotations you are going to use but that is all you are allowed! • Write the essay in 45 minutes then keep it in your folder to peer-assess on Friday