Illustration of a man smoking a cigarette

The Catcher in the Rye

by J. D. Salinger

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The Catcher in the Rye Reading Guide

by eNotes

  • Released July 29, 2022
  • Literature subject
  • 59 pages
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Grade Levels

Grade 9

Grade 10

Grade 11

Grade 12


Reading Comprehension and Reflection Questions: Right after Holden enters Mr. Spencer’s room, he says, “The minute I went in, I was sort of sorry I’d come.” Why does he think that? Mr. Spencer is sick, in his bathrobe, and old. Holden feels uncomfortable seeing him in this state. What can you tell about Holden from his conversation with Mr. Spencer? Holden is immature and cynical but also compassionate. He has failed school because he does not study; he does not seem very concerned about it. Holden has a good heart, however...


We’ve designed this eNotes Comprehensive Reading Guide for you to use in numerous ways to give you different approaches to understanding the novel.


Reading Guide:

  • The Reading Guide is organized for a chapter-by-chapter study of the novel. Reading Guide pages may be approached individually and completed at your own pace.
  • Reading Guide pages may be used as pre-reading activities to preview the vocabulary words you encounter in reading each chapter and to acquaint you generally with the chapter’s content, or they may be used to check your reading comprehension after finishing a chapter.


  • Reading Guide vocabulary lists include words from the novel that vary in difficulty.

Essay and Reflection Questions:

These questions vary in degree of difficulty. Some questions require higher levels of critical thinking; others engage you with less challenging inquiry. All can be engaged with either individually or in conversation with your teacher and classmates.


After reading this novel and using this guide, you should be able to:

  • explain how the narrator changes throughout the course of the novel

  • compare and contrast the characters Holden labels as phony with those he considers to be authentic

  • explain the significance of the phrase “the catcher in the rye” as it relates to Holden

  • identify examples of what Holden considers “mature” behavior. What is his impression of most adults?

  • explain why this is considered a classic. What aspects of this story are timeless and still relevant today?

  • describe why Holden feels so lonely and depressed

  • explain the benefits and limitations of having Holden as a first-person narrator

  • compare and contrast Holden’s views of adulthood with your own