Study Guide

The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye Essay - Critical Essays

Sample Essay Outlines

  • Topic #1
    Illustrate how Holden can be viewed as a contemporary Everyman, the main character in a medieval morality play.

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: The Catcher in the Rye can be viewed as a contemporary morality play.

    II. Historical Context of Morality Play
    A. Definition of morality play
    B. Characteristics of morality play
    C. Morality play (allegory) as a literary genre

    III. Everyman
    A. Summary of story
    B. Accidental differences to the stories due to different eras
    C. Lessons The Catcher in the Rye teaches us which are similar to Everyman

  • Topic #2
    Discuss symbolism in The Catcher in the Rye.

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: Although much symbolism in The Catcher in the Rye is authentic, some critics have argued for symbolism which is illusory at best and trivial at worst.

    II. “Symbols are nothing but the natural speech of drama”
    (T. Williams).
    A. Words are symbols of concepts.
    B. Symbolic gestures, clothing, etc. can speak more directly and simply than do words.
    1. Gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh from the three wise men to Jesus symbolized that Jesus was a king.
    2. White gown of a bride symbolizes her purity.
    3. Wearing a black armband indicates a person in mourning.
    4. A ring on the third finger of the left hand indicates that a person is married.
    5. A military salute
    C. Authentic symbols in The Catcher in the Rye
    1. Phoebe and Allie representing innocence and purity
    2. Ducks representing homeless condition of Holden, i.e., evicted from...

(The entire section is 789 words.)