From The Catcher in the Rye, create a title for chapters 3, 11 and 19. Describe events, moods, or significance of the individual chapter as well as its significance to the novel with a well...

From The Catcher in the Rye, create a title for chapters 3, 11 and 19. Describe events, moods, or significance of the individual chapter as well as its significance to the novel with a well supported explanation of the title.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Uncomfortable in the world in which he dwells, Holden Caulfield rails at the hypocrisy of adults and the arrogance and phoniness of his classmates. 

  • Chapter 3 - A Romantic at Heart

Declaring himself a liar in the opening sentence of this chapter, Holden sets himself as the one who tells untruths in a false world because he is outnumbered by those who are counterfeit: "Old Ossenburger," the owner of a funeral home, who has donated enough money to Pencey that an entire wing is named after him. In his address to the student body, he extols his own virtues as well as the power of prayer, but Holden thinks Ossenburger probably prays for "Jesus to send him a few more stiffs."

When Ackley, who also repulses Holden, intrudes into the dorm room that Holden shares with Stradlater, Holden keeps reading and does not look up because he is "a sort of nasty guy" who does not brush his teeth and eats in a gluttonous manner. Wearing his red hunter hat, Holden spins it around on his head, pulling it over his eyes, walking as though he were blind, and when Ackley asks about it, saying it is like a hat that men wear to shoot deer, Holden replies, "I shoot people in this hat," hoping he will depart. The ill-mannered Ackley does, but only when the athletic Stradlater enters the room.


Disappointed in real people, Holden seeks refuge in books. Interestingly, he claims he is "illiterate," but he delights in such novels as Out of Africa and Hardy's skillful prose and dark narratives of people manipulated by an Immanent Will. When he claims that he would call up "old Thomas Hardy" rather than Somerset Maugham, author of Of Human Bondage, whose protagonist concludes after many misfortunes and disappointments in life, 

the simplest pattern, that in which a man was born, worked, married, had children, and died, was likewise the most perfect,

the reader can infer that Holden is really a very complex young man with very sensitive feelings, who sympathizes with the characters of Hardy who are often caught up in a harsh, unpredictable, and often tragic world. Clearly, a very sensitive Holden perceives his world more deeply than most teens and connects his inner feelings to his world.

  • Chapter 11 - "Those Were the Days"

Despite his cynicism, Holden Caulfield wishes to connect with others. His recurring memory of Jane, a sensitive girl to whom he even showed Allie's baseball mitt on which he had written poems is an indication again of Holden's deep feelings and sensitivity. Recalling his time spent with Jane, Holden comments, "All you knew was, you were happy. You really were."


Clearly Holden is nostalgic about his joyous time with Jane in which he could truly be himself and share his secret feelings with someone. Because this memory is so sacred, Holden does not want to think about Jane's being with Stradlater on a date and prefers to reminisce about his relationship with her.

  • Chapter 19 - Partially Thawed and Partially Frozen

Continuing his efforts to connect with someone, Holden calls Carl Luce, who was supposed to have been Holden's Student Advisor back at Whooton. Instead, Carl gave free advice on sex to the younger boys.

He knew quite a bit,... especially perverts and all. He was always telling us about a lot of creepy guys....

With Carl, then, Holden talks again about sex, hoping to draw Carl out, but the older Carl refuses to talk about himself; instead, he discusses Eastern philosophy and Holden asks for some advice, but Carl refuses to be drawn in. He tells Holden he is immature because he has become too loud and asks questions that are too personal. 

Later in their conversation, Holden asks if Carl's father, who is a psychiatrist, could help him. Carl admits that his father discussed with him the patterns of his mind, and he leaves, having tolerated all he can from Holden who has acted immaturely and demonstrated some homophobia, as well.


Holden's sense of alienation and cynicism prevents him from communicating effectively with Carl. Somewhat homophobic about Carl, Holden becomes more aggressive and loud as a defensive action. Yet, he feels lonely again when Carl leaves.

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The Catcher in the Rye

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