Monday, December 6, 2010

the Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger


The Catcher in the Rye is a novel about the misadventures of a sixteen-year-old adolescent named Holden Caulfield. He is telling a story to the reader about the events that occurred earlier in the year. Holden does not have a knack for school, and the novel begins with him being notified that he is being expelled for failing four of his classes. This is the fourth school he has failed out of. He is to leave to go to New York to live back with his parents, but this is not for several days. The story is about what happens before he returns to his parents.
He first goes to tell his favorite teacher goodbye; but, after the teacher only talks about how Holden should have done better, Holden storms out. He returns to his room where his neighbor Ackley, who doesn't care much for personal hygiene, annoys him further. He then gets into a fight with his actual roommate Stradlater, and decides to return to New York several days early and not tell his parents. Holden then stays at a hotel, where many misfortunes befall him. Holden loves to point out the bad things in people, and he starts off by criticizing the other people he can see in other rooms. He tries to obtain alcohol from the bar at the bottom of the hotel, and, when denied, he hangs out with several older women in their thirties. They dance and Holden seems to have a good time. They then leave him, however, making him pay their entire tab along with his own. Holden has very sporadic thoughts and is always thinking about abstract things. He thinks about his old friend Jane, but never actually does anything about contacting her. He also asks several cab drivers where the ducks go in the winter, but only ends up annoying them. Holden then pays for a prostitute, but, when confronted, just wants to talk. The person who advertised her then beats him up and takes more money from him. He then meets one of his former girlfriends and goes out with her, but he eventually drives her away too when he insults her. Several other events occur and go wrong, and Holden lastly decides to sneak back home to see his sister. He fails at every social encounter, so it seems he returns to his sister because she does not reject him. He then makes plans to run away, which then fail as his sister tries to follow him. In all, Holden accomplishes nothing, failing at almost everything he tries. However, if you are looking for a story that gives insight to a troubled teen's thoughts and experiences, then this book is for you. I would highly recommend reading this book because it is able to let the reader connect to Holden's thoughts and feelings, making it seem if he was one of your friends who needed help.

Discussion Questions:

1. If you had a friend that was failing out of many schools and seemed to be troubled, would you try to help them? Even if they were socially awkward and constantly pointed out your flaws, yet you could tell they didn't mean it?

2. If you were in Holden's place, mentally and socially disturbed, how would you try to get help? Would it be as difficult for you as it was for Holden, knowing that everyone you tried to talk to was driven away?

13 comments:

KatherineS13-14 said...

1) If I had a friend that was failing out of schools, I would try to help them. I would aid in any possible way that seemed like it might help. Friends are friends, and no matter what that person said or did, I would continue to try to help that friend succeed.

Matt P. 13-14 said...

I agree with you, Katherine, I would do what ever I could to try to help. It just seems to me that it would be very difficult to help such a critical person, such as Holden. I would need to have a lot of patience and understanding in order to deal with their constant judgement and criticism.

JessieW 11-12 said...

1) if i had a friend that was failing out of school i would help them as much as i could. of course i wouldn't put more time into their education then i have to put into mine. as for the socially awkward part, i am slightly socially awkward. so i could connect in a way. and the flaw part, well i'd just ignore it like i ignore my brother when he points out my flaws.

Rachael B MOds 5-6 said...

I feel that as a person on this planet, it is never in my place to judge. If someone needs help, I want to be there to help them. If I can tell that someone is doing something but does not mean any harm by doing it, I cannot hold it against them. They might have had plenty of situations and difficult experiences in life which led them to have the hostile attitude that they now hold. Even if the least I could do is be there for them when they need someone to talk to, or even someone who gently points out that there life needs change, I will certainly do that for anyone who I call my friend. That is the key word-friend. They are not my enemy, and so I have no reason to hate them.

Matt P. 13-14 said...

I agree with both of you, I would be there for them when they needed me and I would back off if they wanted me to. Ultimately, I would be there for help if they wanted it and support them if they needed it.

Sydney C.13-14 said...

I personally don't think academically that there would be any way to help Holden or anyone in a similar situation of failing out of multiple schools. I think that the only way to truly help someone in this position of social disturbance would be to befriend them. Putting up with the criticism and giving them a social confidence boost would be a beneficial short term help, counseling would be the long road that I would suggest.

Kristen T. 11-12 said...

To answer question 1, yes I would help a friend if they had fallen into this type of situation. I would try to be the bigger person and help them even though they had not always been respectful to me. I feel like this would be the right thing to do for a good friend. I would feel guilty if I let them spiral out of control without doing anything at all. This type of help from a good friend could help the person become less socially awkward and more respectful towards the world around him.

Kaitlyn S. 13-14 said...

1. Just as everyone said before me, I would help. I actually had a friend doing poorly in calculus and so I went online and looked up the lesson she was on. I was able to learn the material and teach it back to her in a way she understood. What I don't think I could handle was someone that pointed out my flaws all the time, even if they didn't mean it. I would put up with it for as long as I could but I believe there's a tipping point for me where I just wouldn't be able to take it anymore.

2. If I were in his place, I suppose I would try to get prefessional help in the form of a therapist. They are supposed to listen and can't really be driven away. I think it would be very difficult if everyone ended up leaving you. It would make you feel alone and the odd one out. You would feel like a complete and utter failure not worthy of even trying. So at the same time, if I were in his place, I may not even try getting help at all because I'd think that I'd probably fail that too.

Allie H 11-12 said...

Regarding question # 1, if I had a friend who was failing out of school and who was troubled, I would definitely try to help them. Even if my friend constantly pointed out my flaws, I would realize that he or she was just very self-conscience and needed to put down others in order to boost his or her self-confidence. I know a lot of people who need to make fun of others in order to make themselves feel good, which is very pathetic and childish. So I would see that my friend truly did not mean what he or she was saying. A friend is a friend no matter what, and you should treat others how you would want to be treated. So if I was in his or her position, I would want my friends to help me.

Joe K. 11-12 said...

To answer question one I would still help my friend. My reasoning behind this is because at the end of the day you and that person are still friends. Nobody's perfect, everyone has flaws and if someone is going through a tough time that may be when they need you more than ever before. Never is it good to abandon a friend in a time of trouble, regardless of how mean they may be in the moment.

Alexander C. [13-14] said...

1. Yes i would help them all i could. i am the kind of person that accepts you for who you are. i dont judge. as long as youre cool with me im cool with you. i wouldnt bother me if they pointed out flaws. i take criticism constructively.

2.i would get as much help as i could but i dont think i would let things get to me like they get to holden. it would be really hard to deal with what holden is going through but i am thankful my life is better than that of holden.

James F (11-12) said...

1. i would help them because i feel socially awkward all the time. well i used to feel that way. i would help them because i love helping people.

2. i would go to my family first for help no matter what. family is always there for you but holden's might not have been. i cant remember ahah.it would be very difficult because not having anyone in the world would be the worst feeling ever.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

Thread graded, closed.