Catcher in the Rye Reading Log
Shelby Enman//Period 7

Chapters 1 & 2

"People always think something's all true. I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell my to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am - I really do - but people never notice it. People never notice anything" (Salinger 12).

Chapters 3 & 4

To Ponder:

Why does Holden put up with all of Stradlater's selfish behavior but is so quick to judge all the other "phonies"?

Is Holden afraid to approach his past love because he is afraid she has changed? Or is he just punishing himself?

Why is Holden continuously searching for perfection in others but cannot see his own pitfalls (Stradlater, Mr. Spencer, Ackley)?

Is Holden's controversial behavior throughout the novel due to a lack of attention from his parents?


Within J.D Salinger's controversial novel The Catcher in the Rye, the young men attending Pencey prep have differing ideals regarding community, proving that every child needs a healthy place to grow. The main character Holden Caulfield is internally conflicted, never really finding a safe place to call home. Over the course of his life, he attends and becomes expelled from multiple different schools, vying for the attention of many people. Holden wants to find someone he can trust and proves this when he states, "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author who wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it" (Salinger 22). Holden is obviously quite lonely in his cold boarding schools and wants a compassionate person to support him. He probably would deny this fact until he was blue in the face, but all he really wants is a community to grow and thrive in. The main reason he is such a trouble maker is because he searching for the attention of his parents. Within the first few chapters, his parents are only mentioned a handful of times, always in a negative light. They were most likely never there for him during his childhood, allowing him to develop a set of vices that prevent him from properly functioning in real world situations. This proves the fact that children and young teenagers really need role models to look up to and learn from. A morally undeveloped child is not going to function as well as a child that has a warm community behind them. The children who develop into powerful adults through rigorous schooling are the ones who have a set of supporting parents cheering for them each step of the way. The lonely troublemaker Holden Caulfield helps reveal the topic of community/parental support, showing that children need to develop in a supportive setting in order to thrive and grow. 

Chapters 5 & 6

A Quote To Note:

"'That's the trouble with all you morons. You never want to discuss anything.that's the way you can always tell a moron. They never want to discuss anything intellig-'" (Salinger 50).

Vocab Summary

Holden, Ackley, and Mal Brossard go and try to see an irrelevant movie in the city, but end up just getting cheeseburgers instead. Once they get home, Holden writes Stradlater's paper and reveals the cladestine topic of his brother Allie. Stradlater came home from his night out with Jane and was callous to all of Holden's apparent anxieties and feelings. The two got into a scuffle and Stradlater quelled Holden in a pinch. Holden then put on his red hat and ruminated about his the fight and all his feelings for Jane. At the end of chapter six, Holden turns to Ackley and meets him in his acrid smelling room to vent.

Chapters 7-13

Discussion Questions

Chapter Seven:

  • Why is Holden so hypocritical? He claims to be loaded yet he judges the "phonies" who have money (Frederick Woodruff etc...) Will he remain this hypocritical his entire life?
  • Why does Holden constantly run away from his emotions and uses goodbyes as fake closure?

Chapter Eight:

  • Is the reason why Holden pushes his real self away with his web of lies is because he feels continuously insufficient?
  • Does he push everyone away to avoid emotion? Why does he judge the phonies that just show emotion when he becomes an alternate being to avoid his feelings?

Chapter Nine:

  • Why does Holden have all these prearranged ideas in his head and cannot follow what his true emotions tell him too?
  • Is a phony just someone who lets their emotions in?

Chapter Ten:

Holden is constantly struggling with his age and tries to be older than he actually is. Why is that? Is it another ploy in his search for affection?

Chapter Eleven:

Why did Holden ever let Jane go if he really loved her? He obviously really cares!

Does he go on this night long rampage to forget Jane and his fight with Stradlater?

Chapter Twelve:

What happened in Holden's childhood that makes him afraid of home and the comfort it brings?

Why does Holden prefer to hold all his feelings inside than just go home and be heard? Is it because he has no place he feels welcome?

Chapter Thirteen:

Why does Holden turn to short term pleasures to satsify his longing for attention and care?

John Green on Holden

One point John Green brings up is the idea that Holden is afraid of his adult life and how everything will pan out for him. From sex to his grey hair, this whole novel is about Holden's stream of conciousness during his journey to awareness. He just really needs an adult figure to sit down with him and sort out his contradicting feelings. Another point brought up is that the language used by Holden, a stream of consciousness, is helpful in seeing his emotions and passive agressive nature. The tone is often in passive tense, giving the novel another layer of depth. The last point brought up is Holden's need for someone to listen to him. He is even so desperate that he pays a prostitute to listen to his issues. By the end of the novel, Holden is done with the craziness of life and checks himself into a mental facility to really find attention and care.

Chapters 14-17

Chapter 14:

What is Holden's fascination with religion? Do you think it has something to do with the lack of community in his life?

Chapter 15:

What is Holden's love for expensive suitcases? Wouldn't he think that they are phony? Does it have to do with his longing for equality?

Chapter 16:

Does Holden like the museum because it freezes time in place? Does he not go into the museum because he is afraid he has changed too much?

Chapter 17:

Does Holden really like Sally or is he just moved with emotion shen he sees someone who actually cares about him?

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