.O u Ts I d E- E l e M e N t S. ......................................................................................................................................................................................................
AmOng OtHeR ThIngS,you’ll find that you’re not the first person who has been CONFUSED and FRIGHTENED and even SICKENED by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know.
Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now.
Happily, some of them KEPT RECORDS OF THEIR TROUBLES.- Mr. Antolini

Salinger mentions a number of other authors and famous literary characters in The Catcher in the Rye, for example Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa, Somerset Maughm’s Of Human Bondage, Emily Dickinson, Ring Lardner and Gatsby. Write a brief summary of each author, character or novel mentioned and a reason why Salinger may have included them in the book. Do these authors tell us something about Holden? The title of the novel is taken form a poem. Why? What is the significance of this poem? Why do think Salinger used this? Feel free to look at other sources written about this question and link it to your page on the wiki. As A Group: Add other sources written about this question, do these authors tell us something about Holden? Write brief summary of each

Group Members: Amina, Leon, YuYu, Nicole, David


"Comin' Tru the Rye" is a poem by Robert Burns. The poem is about a man and woman meeting in a hay field and having sex. Holden, however, mentioned it in Chapter 16 under a different light. He thought a line in the poem was “If a body catch a body comin’ through the rye,” but the actual lyric was “If a body meet a body, coming through the rye.” This being so, he imagined a group of childen playing in a field of rye perched high on a cliff. If ever one of them should begin to fall off the precipice while trying to catch a ball or something, Holden would be there to catch them. Holden's desire to be "The Catcher in the Rye" is what ultimately defined him; it is, after all, the title of the novel. The fall from the cliff is a metaphor for the fall from innocence. Kids are pure at heart, leading generally carefree lives. When they grow up, life becomes complex. They begin to do bad things and think malicious thoughts. Society eventually turns them into very "phonies" Holden hated so much.

Although Holden's own childhood had a lot of heart-ache in it--- from his brother's death to his parents' aloofness--- all of the terrible things he witnessed hit him as a teenager. He plummeted into severe depression. He could no longer brush troubles aside as he did when he was young. He began to see the world for what it was. Most people were mean, most conversations were fake, and the movies were a cheesy, stupid, and sickening form of entertainment.

All this being so, Holden had a desire throughout the book to preserve his sister Phoebe as the sweet, innocent kid she was. He did not want her to grow up. In Chapter 25, Holden takes Phoebe to ride on a carousel. Holden liked this carousel because it always plays the same song over and over, something that magnifies his contempt for change. On the carousel, Phoebe and all of the other children try to reach for a golden ring. Instead of telling her to stop because of the danger of falling off the ride, however, he decides to let her continue reaching.


"The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them." -Holden Caulfield

Ironically, the word “meet” in "Comin' Tru the Rye" refers to an encounter that leads to recreational sex. Holden substituted the word "meet" with “catch". He wanted to catch children before they gained any knowledge of the adult world, including knowledge of sex. One of the few times he began to accept the fact that kids have to grow up eventually was during the carousel incident. Another incident where this acceptance sparked again was when he thought back to the visit he had made to Phoebe's school, where he rubbed the words "fuck you" off the wall. At the end of the book, Holden realized again that kids can't be shielded forever because "Even if you had a million years to do it, you couldn't rub out even half the "fuck you" signs in the world. It's impossible."
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David Copperfield is a novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a novel in 1850. The story deals with the life of David Copperfield from childhood to maturity. Many elements within the novel, however, foexternal image DavidCoppe_0.jpgllow events in Dickens' own life, making it the most autobiographical of all of his novels. Holden rejects this, stating at the very beginning of the The Catcher in the Rye: "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of CRAP, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth." The irony behind this is that Holden actually DID go into the details of his life. Between stories about his brother's death to his distain for society, readers get amazing insight into the inner workings of Holden's brain. The Catcher in the Rye itself is a book that chronicles one of the biggest turning points in Holden's life: his mental breakdown.

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The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, first published in 1925. Although the plots are quite different, the main characters in The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye --Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and Holden Caulfield-- are used in their novels as a means of criticizing the society in which each lives through inte
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raction with other characters. Nick is like Holden in the fact that they both share ideas of having expectations of people and hope, even though society constantly lets them down with multiple examples showing how people act in their natural state. Both books take place in New York City during a pivotal time periods. The Great Gatsby takes place during WWI and The Catcher in the Rye takes place during WWII.

The Great Gatsby focuses heavily on the concepts of materialism and how it can corrupt society. Holden dealt with materialism throughout the book. He was born into an upper class home and shuffled back and forth between fancy private schools. Holden mentioned in the book that if one boy had a cheaper-looking suitcase than the other, he would be labeled as inferior. Holden also had an altercation with another boy at Pencey Prep over stolen gloves. However, Holden stated throughout the book that he was careless with money and threw it in all directions. This proved to be true, because at the beginning of The Catcher in the Rye Holden had a lot of money to spend. By the end, it had dwindled down to a few dollars. His younger sister, Phoebe, resorted to lending him some of her own money, something that filled Holden with deep emotion. Holden was also moved by nuns that were asking for charity money and the prostitute he met in the city.

In addition, both Gatsby and Holden maintain a strong sense of romanticism that made them idolize certain traits in women. Holden remembered how Jane would always keep her kings in the back row during chess because they looked good whereas Gatsby adores Daisy's (his love interest) charming voice.

" I was crazy about The Great Gatsby . Old Gatsby. Old sport. That killed me." -Holden Caulfield


Isak Dinesen's autobiographical novel, Out of Africa , recounts the years she spent on a coffee plantation in East Africa. It was published in 1937 and became very popular in the United States and England. It is comprised of a series of Dinesen's observations of the African landscape and character sketches of the East Africans external image _image.jpgand Europeans she met there. Though the memoir is based upon the author's observations, it is not only an account of what she found in Africa, but her quest to define herself. Dinesen is similar to Holden, who struggles to understand himself in the beginning of The Catcher in the Rye. Dinesen tries to figure out who she is, what she's doing on Earth, and why. Through her encounters with others and the problems she faces, she further molds her character. Holden Caulfield similarly learns more about himself through his journeys, experiences, and encounters with other people. The Catcher in the Rye and Out of Africa are both self-exploration novels. The biggest conflicts
presented are inner. By the end of both books, however, a step towards inner-peace is made.

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William Somerset Maugham was born in 1874 in Paris. He was widely renowned as the highest paid author in the world in the 1930’s. He wrote novels, playwrights, and even short-stories. However, before he reached fame, Maugham studied to become a doctor yet immediately abandoned the medical field when his first novels and plays were a success. He lived in Paris for 10 years as a struggling author and his first written works included his first novel (Liza of Lambeth) and his first play (A Man of Honour). However, the novel that drove Maugham to popularity and fame was the semi-autobiographical novel, Of Human Bondage, written in 1915 and praised as Maugham’s greatest literary work.
Of Human Bondage is a story revolving around the development of the main protagonist, Phillip Carey. Phillip’s mother died when he was only nine years old. His father died a few months before his mother’s death. As an orphan, Phillip is sent to live with his aunt and uncle. His uncle’s attitude toward Phillip is cruel and unforgiving due to the fact that Phillip inherited a small fortune from his parents but cannot receive it until he is 21 years old. His aunt wishes to be a motherly model to Phillip but cannot because she herself is childless and has a lack of experience. Over the years, Phillip undergoes through a rollercoaster ride of emotions, of tragic events, and of searching for himself in his desire to find friendships and love. From boarding schools to religious conversions to betrayals and love interests, Phillip Carey relentlessly searches for a place where he truly belongs.
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Despite being thrust into vastly different environments, the personalities and situations revolving around Holden Caulfield and Phillip Carey are surprisingly similar. Just as how Holden didn’t get along too well with the boys at Pency Prep, Phillip too did not make any friendships due to his shyness and his "club foot" (a deformity). Phillip used to be extremely religious at one point, but like Holden, his belief in God is shattered when God failed to “heal his club foot” and a close friend of his betrayed him. Also, like Holden, Phillip chose to drop out of school when he had the potential to go to Oxford. The scenarios in which Holden and Phillip are placed in are very similar.
Both Holden and Philip seek for some form of acceptance from others. Both feel lonely and as a result, Holden and Phillip tend to seek the company of others, especially women. Just as how Holden desired the company of women (such as Sally and Jane), Phillip was also involved in various relationships including a middle-aged woman named Miss Wilkinson, a poor art student named Miss Price (who later committed suicide because Phillip did not return her feelings), and Mildred (who rejects Phillip’s feelings and even becomes a prostitute later in the story). However, one major difference between the two is their fates. While it is implied that Holden ended up in a mental asylum missing all of his old “friends” at the end of the book, Phillip gives up all of his plans and ideals to marry his true love (ironically, also named Sally).
When Holden mentioned Of Human Bondage in chapter 3, he noted that the book to him was “a pretty good book and all” but how Maugham wasn’t the type of guy that he would have called up. Salinger might have been indirectly implying that Holden Caulfield enjoyed reading Maugham’s book, but he didn’t really like the book’s ideals. This is evident through Holden’s attitude. Unlike the book’s ending of how the main protagonist eventually ended up being satisfied with himself, Holden never felt that way. Holden always felt as if he didn’t have a purpose and as if he was the type of guy who didn’t really belong anywhere. Holden was never committed. He would be interested in Jane one minute then Sally the next. In a way, Salinger might have referenced to Maugham’s book as a foil of ideals.


Emily Dickinson was born on December 10th, 1830 Amherst, Massachusetts with a well known family. She studied during her school years and was bright. During her years at school, many people close to her started to die off which caused her to seek help. When she recovered, she was able to return to school. Later, Emily went back home to live back with her family. She was a shy individual as she lived the majority of her life hidden and in her house. While Emily never came out of her room, however she had written many famous poems in her lifetime. Her major themes are about death and war but there have been other themes that she has written too.

Allie, Holden's late brother, was very fond of Emily Dickinson. He scribbled her poems onto his baseball glove so he would have something to do when he got bored out on the field. Holden also asked DB who a better war writer was: Dickinson or Rupert Brooke. DB confidently answered Dickinson.

Interestingly enough, Dickinson lived her life secluded from the rest of the world, something Holden expressed his desire in doing. This desire was rooted in his plan to move into a log cabin and live there by himself where no one could bother him. There is also a theme of death that runs through Emily Dickinson's poems. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden has to deal with the death of his brother Allie and his own thoughts of suicide.

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Besides D.B., Holden’s favorite author was Ring Lardner. As Holden described it, he was one of the many authors whom he would buzz to talk to. In Chapter 3 Holden talked about a book he read by Ring Lardner where a married policeman loved a girl, but she was always be speeding. He would let her go each time but in the end, the girl died from a car crash. Holden said that although most people were phony, some rare individuals like Lardner were not. This is probably because the lifestyle of Ring Lardner was quite similar to Holden himself. external image 41Q85T4TM1L.jpg

“It had these very funny, crazy plays in it, and then it had this one story about a traffic cop that falls in love with this very cute girl that's always speeding. Only, he's married, the cop, so be can't marry her or anything. Then this girl gets killed, because she's always speeding. That story just about killed me.” –Holden Caulfield

Ring Lardner was born on March 6th, 1885 in Niles, Michigan. Like Holden, he was born into a rich family and went to private school. At the request of his father, Ring Lardner joined an engineering school but flunked out in 1902. Instead, he pursued a career as a journalist. Holden, though claiming in the beginning of The Catcher in the Rye to be “illiterate”, read a lot. It is safe to assume that both Lardner and Holden had a passion for English. Lardner is famous for books such as “You Know Me Al”, a story about baseball. The story Holden referred to in Chapter 3 was “There are smiles” from Ring Lardner’s “The best short stories of Ring Lardner.”

In short, Holden and Lardner—almost paradoxically—had similar lifestyles. Both were born into the upper class, and both flunked out of prestigious private schools. Engineering school was pushed onto Ring Lardner by his father just as Holden was forced to attend Pencey. In addition, Ring Lardner loved baseball, which Allie played. Salinger knew all of this and knew Lardner would be the perfect match for Holden. It is why Ring Lardner was one of Holden's favorite authors.