The Catcher in the Rye Study Guide
The Catcher in the Rye: Chapter Summaries
The Catcher in the Rye: Themes
The Catcher in the Rye: Characters
The Catcher in the Rye: Analysis
The Catcher in the Rye: Quotes
The Catcher in the Rye: Critical Essays
The Catcher in the Rye: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
The Catcher in the Rye: Questions & Answers
The Catcher in the Rye: Introduction
The Catcher in the Rye: Biography of J. D. Salinger
Introduction to The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger published The Catcher in the Rye, his most popular and acclaimed work, in 1951. In the novel, adolescent narrator Holden Caulfield leaves his prep school, having been expelled, and travels to New York City for an unsupervised weekend. Over the course of the narrative, Holden gradually reveals his feelings about his classmates, his family, and a tragedy that has left him suffering.
Holden Caulfield is perhaps the novel’s most indelible creation. His narrative voice is inflected with a distinctive vernacular, a cynicism towards the adult world, and a thread of melancholy and youthful sensitivity. The novel offers a portrait of a teenage boy at the threshold between childhood and adulthood. Indeed, much of the novel’s tension arises from Holden’s consciousness of the pain of that transition as he undergoes it. Salinger’s insightful look at adolescent alienation and rebellion has made The Catcher in the Rye one of the most widely read books of the twentieth century.
A Brief Biography of J. D. Salinger
J. D. Salinger (1919–2010) is famous primarily for two things: his novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) and his reclusive life. Catcher is a semiautobiographical account of its teenage protagonist, Holden Caulfield. The novel’s first-person narration gave voice to a generation of frustrated young men who longed to escape the strictures of “proper” society. Although the work was an immediate popular success, Salinger never penned another published novel. He did have success with several short stories, including “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” first published in the New Yorker in 1948. Success also followed with his collection Franny and Zooey in 1961. Despite his enormous acclaim, though, Salinger rarely published after 1959 and only ever granted an occasional interview, preferring a life of anonymity.