The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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Chapter 1 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who is Holden Caulfield?

2. Who is D.B., and why is Holden somewhat contemptuous of him?

3. What is the reality of Pencey Prep in contrast to the advertisements, as seen by Holden?

4. Why does Holden watch the game from the hill?

5. Who is Selma Thurmer, and why did Holden like her?

6. Who is Mr. Spencer, and why was Holden going to visit him?

7. Why was Holden trying to “feel” some kind of good-bye?

8. What does Holden think about the other students who attend Pencey?

9. How popular was the sport of polo at Pencey Prep?

10. Does Holden blame others for his flunking out of school?

Answers
1. Holden Caulfield is the narrator of the story. He has just been asked to leave Pencey Prep for failing four subjects. He is telling the story from California, where he is recuperating from being run-down.

2. D.B. is Holden’s older brother, who is a writer. Holden thinks he has prostituted himself because he is in Hollywood writing scripts for movies rather than writing short stories.

3. Holden feels that Pencey has high academic standards, but he is skeptical about its claim to mold boys into “splendid, clear-thinking young men.” He thinks that those boys who were splendid and clear thinkers were probably such before they enrolled.

4. He was reluctant to go down to the stands because he feared he would be ignored by the other students, due to his having left the fencing equipment on the subway train the day before. He was the team manager and, because of his error, the team was unable to compete.

5. Selma is the daughter of the headmaster. Although she is not very attractive, Holden likes her because she is not a phony.

6. Mr. Spencer is Holden’s history teacher. He had invited Holden to visit him because he knew that Holden was not returning to school after Christmas.

7. Holden is concerned because he did not feel happy or sad about leaving Pencey. He wants to feel something because he says you do not know you are doing something until you feel it.

8. He says that Pencey is full of crooks. The more expensive the school is, the more crooks it has. Yet he did mention that Tichener and Campbell were nice guys.

9. Holden implies that polo was only in the minds of the school publicists. He himself had never seen a horse near the place.

10. Holden readily admits that he did not apply himself, although he had been warned frequently that he was in danger of failing.