The Catcher in the Rye is the personal narrative of a young man named Holden Caulfield and his recollection of the weekend after he was expelled from his school, Pencey Prep. Throughout his story the reader witnesses Holden’s journey home and the inner conflict between facing his parents after his expulsion or never going back at all. The story begins with Holden preparing himself to leave saying goodbye to the campus and his favorite teachers,reminiscing on the good memories he created there. Before officially leaving Holden finds himself completely irritated by his classmate Ackley, and the fact that his roommate Stradlater is beginning to date Jane, a girl he still admires. After fully interrogating Stradlater on his intentions with the girl after his date, Holden decides to leave earlier than he initially planned to avoid further tension. Since the school wasn’t scheduled to end for another three days Holden decided to check out a room in the Edmonts Hotel to avoid his parents for the time being. When he first arrives Holden decides to visits the Hotels nightclub on the way thinking about his little sister Phoebe. Holden describes Phoebe as a very intelligent young girl and reminisces about the time he took her to the movies to see “Hitchcock the Steps”. As well as her never ending fictional stories about a character she named “Hazle”. In the nightclub Holden spends his time buying drinks and dancing with a trio of older woman for the entirety of the night.
As he exits the nightclub he begins to think about Jane and the times they spent together while making his way towards his room. During so he describes their relationship at the time and the happy feeling he felt when he was with her. Thinking of Jane causes Holden to become discouraged so he decides to leave the Hotel and take a cab around town. While out Holden finds himself at Ernies a local nightclub in the area, which he leaves shortly after arriving due to an encounter with a girl forcing him to return back to the hotel. As Holden enters the hotel he meets a man in the elevator offering to bring a “prostitute” to his room for cheap. Holden under the belief that sex will change his mood accepts the man’s offer and rushes to his room to get ready. The prostitute arrives shortly after and pounced on Holden, immediately after Holden realized the act would fix nothing and it was not what he wanted. Holden quickly lied and told the girl he could not have sex due to his back and instead chose to talk to her for the rest of the night. As she leaves Holden reminisces on the times he spent with his other sibling Allie before her passing. The next morning Holden calls a girl in his contacts list named Sally Hayes to set up a date for that afternoon. Shortly after Holden packed his bags checked out of the hotel and got ready for his date.
On his way there holden decides to stop by a sandwich for breakfast where he meets two nuns that he speaks with about the story of Romeo and Juliet. After their conversation Holden offers them ten dollars as they walk away for spending time with him ands goes on his way. Before reaching his date Holden heads down to broadway to buy phoebe a record, while there he sees a little boy singing, “if a body catch a body coming through the rye”. The innocence of the little boy cheers Holden up so much that he decides to call Jane, although he quickly hung up when her mother answered instead of her. At two o’clock Holden meets Sally at the Biltmore Hotel for their date, during so they see a movie and go ice skating, and Holden tells her about his dreams and aspirations in life. Sally calls his dreams ridiculous and irrational, ultimately angering Holden concluding the date entirely. After the event Holden decides to risk going home in order to speak with his sister Phoebe. Phoebe being as clever as Holden described was very excited to see him but immediately concurred that he was kicked out of school due to his early arrival. Holden explains to his sister how and why he was kicked out telling his sister he wants to be the “catcher in the rye” in life in reference to the song he heard from the little boy. Phoebe corrects him and tells him that actual lyric is “If a body meets a body coming through the rye”
Holden exits her room after to call his old english teacher Mr.Antolini for advice. Mr. Antolini is shocked by the fact that Holden was kicked out of school and welcomes to his home. He then tells Phoebe goodbye, letting her know of his plan to leave New York forever, and move west. After spending the night at Mr.Antolinis, Holden spends the next day with phoebe at a park saying his last goodbyes, taking her to the zoo to look at all the animals. At this point of the story the narrator stops telling his story and brings it back to the present day with him at his desk writing his story.
In my opinion the one theme of this story is the protection of innocence. Throughout the book Holden holds his innocence very high. This correlates with his constant struggling of growing up to an adult. This theme is portrayed in many scenes, for example the scene when he refuses to have sex with the prostitute, showing that he wanted maintain his innocence in the situation.
I would recommend this book to any teenager who feels like they have to be pressured to do things that would jeopardize their innocence. Peer pressure is a very powerful thing and I think this book shows that even in the worst conditions it’s never bad to attempt to maintain your virtue. I’m glad I read this book because it reminded me that I shouldn’t have to go against my values to fix any of my problems no matter what i am told.
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