Catcher In The Ray referat

Catcher In The Ray - J.D. Salinger

The reader is first introduced to Holden Caulfield, the rambling narrator of this autobiography of sorts. In the first chapter we learn little of Holden's background-only that he has an older brother, D.B., who writes for Hollywood. As for the present, Holden, 17 years old, has just been 'kicked out' of Pencey Prep in Agerstown, Pennsylvania, for not applying himself in any of his classes. Indeed, he has failed four out of his five classes, the fifth being English. This is the fourth school Holden has attended, though he wasn't necessarily kicked-out of them all.

The main action of the first chunk revolves around Holden's visit to his History teacher, Mr. Spencer, to say good-by (at Mr. Spencer's request). Contrary to our expectations from Holden's records in school and his bleak outlook on life, we find that he treats his teacher cordially, and that there is some mutual respect between them. Mr. Spencer attempts to convince Holden to begin applying himself, but merely uncovers the fact that Holden can't stand school because, as Holden puts it 'I was surrounded by phonies.' From there, Holden spends the rest of the conversation simply 'shooting the bull' in order to ease Mr. Spencer's guilt for failing him.

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Chunk 2

chapters 3 - 4


Chapter 3 opens with the ambiguous statement 'I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life,' and then progresses into a description of Pencey, beginning with the phoniness of an alumni, Ossenburger.

The main action of the chunk begins when Robert Ackley, 'a very peculiar guy' and suitemate, enters the room. Ackley is one of the few students not outside watching the football game, and hence is described more or less as a loser. Furthermore, he is incredibly messy and unkempt (with mossy teeth), and every action is interpreted as a pretense. For example, Ackley's lazy 'hi' as he enters appears to Holden as if he is trying to make it seem as if the reason he is visiting is boredom rather than need for company. To annoy Ackley, Holden 'horses around,' first by pretending to be blind, then by spitting out nonsense compliments ('you're a goddam prince').

Ackley finally leaves upon the entry of Holden's roommate, Ward Stradlater, who rushes into the room from the football game, borrows Holden's jacket for a date, and rushes out to shave. Stradlater is described as very handsome, and comes off as incredibly friendly. However, Holden is quick to note that he is a 'secret slob,' shaving with a rusty blade, and that the friendliness is a 'phony kind of friendliness.'

Holden follows Stradlater to the bathroom and learns that Stradlater is leaving for a date with an old acquaintance of Holden's, Jane Gallagher.

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Chunk 3

chapters 5 - 7

Summary: (Explanation on next page >>)

Ackley, Holden, and a friend, Mal Brossard, take a bus to Agerstown for a Saturday night's entertainment. When they get back, Holden begins to write an essay on his younger brother's baseball glove for Stradlater's English Comp class. In doing so, he reminisces about his brother Allie: 'terrifically intelligent,' nice, and dead (from leukemia).

The memories of Allie bring out a sentimental side of Holden, and so when Stradlater returns from his date with Jane, Holden has little tolerance for Stradlater's evasive responses to his questions as whether he gave Jane 'the time.' A fight soon ensues, wherein Holden calls Stradlater a moron and begins bawling about how morons, and presumably everybody, 'never want to discuss anything [intelligent].' In the end, Holden is left on the ground screaming with blood all over his face. He rejects Stradlater's offers of assistance, choosing instead to retreat to Ackley's room.

In Ackley's room Holden attempts to begin a half-hearted conversation, but merely annoys Ackley, who wishes to sleep. In the end, Holden leaves the room and makes a spontaneous decision to leave Pencey that night. Within moments, he is packed and out the door, but not without shouting his farewell: 'Sleep tight, ya morons!'

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Chunk 4

chapters 8 - 11

Summary: (Explanation on next page >>)

Having left Pencey, Holden walks to the train station to return to New York City, where his family leaves. On the train, he meets the mother of one of his classmates, and begins 'shooting the old crap around a little bit,' lying about his name and telling false stories about her son.

After his arrival in New York, he spends some time trying to find someone to call, but can't think of anyone, so finally takes a cab to the Edmont hotel. At the hotel, he looks out of his window and watches first a distinguished-looking man put on women's clothes, and then a man and woman squirting water at each other out of their mouths.

In a fit of loneliness, Holden then decides to call Faith Cavendish, a prostitute, to go out with, but Faith declines his invitation. He then contemplates calling his youngest sibling, 'Old Phoebe.' In reminiscing about her, he notes that 'you never saw a little kid so pretty and smart in your whole life,' though she can be 'too affectionate sometimes.' Finally, he decides not to wake her up and instead goes down to the hotel bar, where he 'makes eyes' at three unattractive girls at the table next to his. After dancing with all three, he attempts to converse with them but finds them all rather unresponsive.

After they leave, Holden sits outside in the hotel's lobby, thinking again about Jane Gallagher. Unlike Stradlater, Holden notes that she understood the significance of Allie's glove. And unlike with most people, Holden notes that he rarely kidded with her-'You never wanted to kid Jane too much.' At the climax of the chapter, he describes a moment in their relationship when she cries, presumably about her 'booze hound' father, and Holden offers compassion.

These thoughts, however, make Holden even more depressed and he leaves the hotel for a city nightclub called Ernie's.

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Chunk 5

chapters 12 - 14

Summary: (Explanation on next page >>)

Holden takes a cab to Eddie's, and again brings up the topic of the ducks in winter to the cab driver. The driver's responses provide comic relief. At the nightclub, Holden finds himself highly critical of everyone around him, from Ernie with his gaudy piano playing and ostensible bow to the other guests. His thoughts, however, are interrupted by an old fling of his brother's, Lillian Simmons, who offers Holden a place at her table. Holden, however, refuses, and leaves the bar so he won't have to put up with her phoniness.

Back at the hotel, Holden meets an elevator worker, Maurice, who offers to send a prostitute, Sunny, to his room. Holden agrees. When she comes up, he realizes that she's about his own age, and thinking about that depresses him even more. In the end, he tells her he just wants to talk to her, and that he'll pay her. When she leaves, she asks for more money than was originally agreed upon, and Holden refuses to pay.

Hours later, Maurice and Sunny reenter Holden's room and take some money from him by force. Holden attempts to stand up to them, but ends up bawling on the floor, as with Stradlater earlier. He does, however, manage to throw a few telling insults at Maurice before getting socked in the midsection and stomach.

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Chunk 6

chapters 15 - 17

Summary: (Explanation on next page >>)

The next morning, Holden calls Sally Hayes out for a date, and she agrees to meet him later that afternoon. In the meantime, he goes out to breakfast and runs into two nuns who are devoid of all pretentiousness. In the end, he donates some money to their charity and holds a conversation with one of them.

After breakfast, Holden takes a long walk. In the streets he sees a little boy singing the old children's song 'If a body catch a body coming through the rye' to himself with total disregard for the outside world. After a while, he ends up at the park and spies a lot of little kids skating. Both sights lift his spirits. Thinking about his own childhood, Holden offers a description of the natural history museum as a place where things don't change. However, upon arrival at the museum, he finds himself unable to walk in.

Finally, it is time to meet Sally for the show. Again, we find Holden highly critical of everything from the actors to Sally herself. After the show, they go ice skating and in a conversation over cokes Holden gets heated up and proposes that they run away to the woods together. Sally, of course, refuses, and Holden calls her a 'royal pain in the ass,' attempts to apologize, and finally leaves.

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Chunk 7

chapters 18 - 20

Summary: (Explanation on next page >>)

Still lonely, Holden calls up an old acquaintance of his from Whooten, Carl Luce, whom he describes as a 'very intellectual guy.' Luce agrees to meet him later that night for some drinks, and in the mean time Holden continues to blow off his money by going to the movies. What follows is a lengthy criticism of both movies and war.

Chapter 19 opens at the Wicker Bar, described as a 'swanky' bar filled with phonies. Over drinks, Holden tries to discuss sex with 'Old Luce,' but Luce simply chides Holden for being childish and immature, and leaves. Depressed, Holden decides to get drunk, and when he finally exits the bar (pretending to have been shot) he calls and wakes up Sally Hayes. His intoxication, however, prevents any real conversation.

Finally, Holden makes his way to the park in an effort to discover where the ducks have gone. Depressed, drunk, and cold, he sits down by the pond and thinks about dying. At the section's end, he decides to go home and have a talk with Phoebe.

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Chunk 8

chapters 21 - 23

Summary: (Explanation on next page >>)

Holden walks back from the park to his family's apartment and sneaks into D.B.'s room, where Phoebe is sleeping. His parents aren't home, so he turns on the lamp and goes through her school stuff, reading her notebook. 'I felt swell, for a change,' he mentions.

Finally, he wakes up Phoebe, who is glad to see him, and then begin to talk. Quickly, however, Phoebe guesses correctly that Holden was kicked out of Pencey and begins to get upset. 'You don't like anything that's happening,' she accuses. 'You don't like any schools. You don't like a million things. You don't.' For the first time, we see Holden open up to somebody and he tries to explain to her why he left Pencey and what he wants out of life.

Finally, in response to Phoebe's questioning, Holden tells her what he really wants to be is a 'catcher in the rye': 'Anyway, 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.'

Holden's parents, however, will be coming home soon, so Holden quickly telephones an old teacher, Mr. Antolini, to arrange a place to stay for the night. When Holden's parents come home he hides in a closet until they're in their bedroom. He quietly asks Phoebe for borrow two dollars, and she presses eight into his hand and refuses to take it back. Holden begins to cry, and Phoebe comforts him. At the end of the section, Holden has left for Mr. Antolini's in considerably better spirits than when he arrived at home.

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Chunk 9

chapters 24

Summary: (Explanation on next page >>)

After leaving his house, Holden heads over to Mr. Antolini's house, where he is welcomed by both the former English teacher and his wife. In the discussion which follows, Mr. Antolini diagnoses Holden as being without a purpose, saying that he is like many other men in history who 'were looking for something their own environment couldn't supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn't supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started.'

Above all, though, Mr. Antolini stresses the need for an education. He argues that in order for Holden to expresses his ideas properly and to gain the will to pursue his thoughts to their ends, he will need an education. In making this argument, Mr. Antolini implies that Holden may turn out to be a brilliant man when he grows up.

After Holden finally gets to sleep, he wakes up an hour or so later only to find Mr. Antolini patting his head. Nervousness overtakes him, and he runs out the door in the guise of retrieving his bags from the station.

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Chunk 10

chapters 25 - 26

Summary: (Explanation on next page >>)

Holden flees Mr. Antolini's for the subway station, where he goes to sleep. The next morning, depressed and with a headache, he begins to walk aimlessly, killing time to when he can return home. However, every time he crosses a street, Holden notes that 'I had the feeling I'd never get to the other side of the street. I thought I'd just go down, down, down, and nobody'd ever see me again.'

Perhaps prompted by his feelings of sickness, he decides spontaneously to head out West and to live alone in a cabin by the woods. Before he does this, though, he goes to Phoebe's school to say by to her. At the school, he notices the words 'Fuck You' written everywhere, and becomes disillusioned. He leaves a note for her to find him at the museum on her lunch break, and goes there to wait. At the museum, he again finds his peace shattered by a 'fuck you' on the wall.

When Phoebe finally shows up, she is carrying a large suitcase and explains to Holden that she wants to go West with him. Alarmed, Holden answers her with a curt 'No. Shut up.' Phoebe bursts into tears and vows never to go back to school again, and Holden quickly protests that he's changed his mind-he'll stay at home (and he really has decided to). Though sore at him, Phoebe agrees to go to the zoo with him.

The final scene before the epilogue takes place at a carousel in the zoo, where Phoebe tells Holden that 'I'm not mad at you anymore.' Holden offers to buy Phoebe a ride on the carousel and she agrees. As she spins around and around, grabbing for the gold ring, it begins to rain. As he watches her, Holden becomes cheered and begins to cry.

In the epilogue (chapter 26), Holden details his optimism for the future: he thinks he will apply himself at the next school he attends.

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