Please give me a short summary of The Catcher in the Rye.

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Holden Caulfield narrates the story of his expulsion from Pencey Prep and experiences wandering New York City on his own before he checking into a mental sanatorium in California. Holden Caulfield is depicted as a neurotic, hypocritical teenager, who is extremely cynical and fears entering the competitive world of adults....

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Holden Caulfield narrates the story of his expulsion from Pencey Prep and experiences wandering New York City on his own before he checking into a mental sanatorium in California. Holden Caulfield is depicted as a neurotic, hypocritical teenager, who is extremely cynical and fears entering the competitive world of adults. Holden Caulfield also has a traumatic past and has not fully recovered or accepted the death of his younger brother Allie, who died of leukemia. As an unreliable narrator, Holden is not in touch with reality and tells the audience blatant lies throughout the story. After Holden leaves Pencey Prep at the beginning of the novel, he wanders around New York City completely alone. He frequents hotels, bars, and even walks around Central Park. Holden desperately seeks a companion and someone to talk to but continually approaches strangers and refrains from interacting with the people who genuinely care about him. Holden ends up sneaking home to see his sister Phoebe, contemplates running away, and finally decides to stay after meeting back up with Phoebe. Throughout the story, Holden struggles to transition into adulthood and attempts to hold onto his childhood for as long as he can.

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I will tell you what my students would say—an angsty teenage boy has a temper tantrum and tries to find himself in New York City.  Holden Caulfield is a fairly typical, misunderstood teen.  He is mildly obsessed with girls, does not do his schoolwork, feels disconnected from his parents, and thinks all people are fake.

One thing that is not typical about Holden is his loss: his brother Allie died from leukemia, and Holden really struggles with that.  His older brother, D.B., has moved to California, his little sister is at home with his parents, and sixteen-year-old Holden is at a boarding school where he does not quite fit in, wondering what his place in the world is.

When he gets expelled for failing all of his classes except two, he decides to loiter in New York City rather than go straight home and admit his failure to his parents.  He keeps trying to connect with people in New York—girls, cab drivers, old teachers, even a couple of nuns he meets at a bus stop.  However, every encounter leaves him feeling more isolated.  The only person he does connect with is his sister, Phoebe, but the relationship is tempered by Holden's feelings of responsibility toward her.

In the end, he gets "pretty run down" and has to go out to California to "rest," as he puts it.  We never get a full sense of what comes next for Holden—has the time in the psychiatric facility made him better or will he continue to mess up and feel overwhelmed? That is an answer every reader must come to on their own! Check out the eNotes study guide on this book for more information.

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The story is about a 16 year old boy named Holden Caulfield.  His story starts from a mental institution where he is currently undergoing treatment for a nervous breakdown which he suffered after being kicked out of Pencey Prep.  He had been kicked out of other schools before this, he continuously fails time after time.

Holden is a very depressed young man.  He is suffering from deep grief over the death of his younger brother, Allie, who died from Leukemia three years ago.  He cannot connect with his peers, he has no real friends at school, he fights with or critizes everyone around him.

Holden becomes very anxious after he fights with Stradlater over his date with Jane, leaves Pencey Prep without permission, days before he is supossed to, not letting his parents know where he is or where he is going.  He goes to NYC and gets into lots of trouble. 

He sneaks into his own apartment when his parents are out, he enjoys seeing his little sister, Phoebe, the only person in the book who he really trusts. 

He is afraid to grow up, he does not want to be an adult.  He would rather remain a child.  He dreams of being a catcher in the rye, literally catching children as they fall off  a cliff that is a symbol for childhood.  Holden wants to keep children in the innocence of childhood.

Adulthood is too scary, too phony, and not for Holden   

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This novel concerns the first-person account of Holden Caulfield, the extremely troubled young adolescent who is struggling with life, after experiencing his younger brother's death from cancer and then being thrown out of a number of different schools. The novel begins as he is about to leave yet another school and he plans on not going home, but running away. As he leaves his school, he meets with a number of individuals, both known to him and new people that he meets as he travels around the city. It becomes very clear to the reader that Holden's account of his life and the experiences he undergoes is very partial. For example, on the one hand, he seems obsessed with sex and admits as much himself. However, whilst he is eager to try and get into situations where he can have sex, he also every time sabotages such attempts, indicating a fear of sexuality that he seems unaware of. This sexual inconsistency is made overt when he describes to Phoebe how he views himself:

...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. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.

The title of this novel is clearly taken from this quote, but also note the way in which Holden seems himself as a protector of innocence of children. He is upset when he sees the word "Fuck" in places where children can see it, and his determination to stop children falling off the cliff, metaphorically referring to their loss of innocence, explains his own sexual frustrations and ambiguities. The novel charts Holden's gradual breakdown until he reaches a point where he has to seek out medical help and finally ends the novel after therapy from which he is slowly recovering and becoming integrated once again into life.

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