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The Catcher In The Rye: Plot Summary And Analysis Of Holden Caulfield

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Authors research
  3. Plot summary
  4. Time period
  5. Social issue analysis
  6. Critique
  7. Conclusion


‘Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody’

Holden Caulfield was a misunderstood teenager looking to fit in. In the Catcher in the Rye Holden faces self conflicts with his insecurities and his mental health. Holden faces a change at the end of the book, he’s been through rough things with friends but he still misses them and the experience. He has terrible friends, Stradlater, fought him. Ackley, brought his insecurities and Maurice. Through this essay, it will explain the most compelling things in The Catcher in the Rye, and J.D. Salinger life background

Authors research

Author Jerome David Salinger was born on January 1, 1919, in New York

Regardless of his thin group of work and withdrawn way of life, Salinger was one of the most compelling American authors of the twentieth century.

Glass family that show up in a portion of his works, was the result of blended parentage his dad was Jewish and his mom was Scotch-Irish. Salinger’s childhood was much the same as that of Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye, the Glass youngsters, and a large number of his different characters. Salinger had just an older sister. He experienced childhood in chic zones of Manhattan and for a period went to state funded schools. Afterward, the youthful Salinger went to private academies where he evidently thought that it was hard to alter

Graduating from Valley Forge. He decided to go one year to New York University before taking off to Europe. After returning home, he went to school at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, before returning to New York and taking night classes at Columbia University there. Salinger met a Professor Whit Burnett. Burnett, saw Salinger’s ability as an author, and pushed him to work.

Then the assault on Pearl Harbor happened, Salinger was drafted into the military, serving from 1942-’44. During this time Salinger kept on composing, amassing sections for another novel whose principle character was a profoundly unsatisfied youngster named Holden Caulfield. Relating to Holden, Salinger after the war he was hospitalized in the wake of enduring a mental meltdown. Posting the book J.D. becoming one of the most incredible writings.

In Catcher in the Rye, it was different in terms of style. Most would use like or as but in this story, he wouldn’t say ‘like’ he would use a different term and still mean the same. In the story J.D has to express that he isn’t an adult, he is Holden. This is Holden writing this book he has to make it seem like it is a teenager who’s been through a rough time as much as J.D. He makes the writing ‘phony’ and ‘corny’ to express the weird teenager Holden is.

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J.D definitely connects to Holden emotionally. J.D was writing this story during the war, he came out of the war with no injuries but he did come out having a melt breakdowns and was hospitalized and through the Catcher in The Rye Holden has melt breakdowns and has to be hospitalized and writes about his life to help his emotions. Holden and J.D also connects on an isolation level, they feel as if they need to be alone to fully understand.

Plot summary

At the beginning of this story Holden tells what happened when he was expelled. Holden starts a fight with his roommate, Stradlater over the fact be wouldn’t tell about the date with Jane Gallagher. Suddenly Holden felt alienated from his school then goes to New York City and rent a hotel room to get away. As Holden was renting the hotel he say couples and got aroused so he pays a prostitute, Sunny, and then sends her away with only 5 dollars. Sunny and her pimp break down Holden for more money. Holden tries to look for a connection around New York but he felt alienated, he decided to call, Sally and they went to the theater. Holden and Sally’s date ends in a fight then meets up with his friend Carl Luce. Holden asks many questions about sex and drove Carl away.

Holden looks for ducks around central park and his home and talks with Phoebe, his sister.

Holden tries to talk with, Mr. Antolin but flees when he found that he would watch Holden sleep. Phoebe tries to go with Holden back to California but he rejects the offer. He tries to tell her to stay but he realizes that he needs to stay too. In the climax of the story, Holden realizes that he must let Phoebe touch the golden on the carousel. Phoebe and Holden forgive each other and Phoebe kisses Holden and gives back his red hat. Holden’s red hat symbolizes, his insecurities but his creativity personality Also bright red color makes him want to be noticed. Holden feels confident and comfortable in his red hat and when he feels insecure he even tries to hide it away. Holden feels happy that Phoebe accepts him as he watches Phoebe on the carousel. Holden goes back to the hospital in California and refuses to answer questions about his future even from his brother, but he truly misses everyone he talked about in this book

Time period

This story took place in the 1940s in New York city, Holden was 16. The book came out in 1951, it was supposed to be only for adults to read during that time. The book definitely reflects how J.D saw the 1940s saw to be, he was writing this story almost at the same time period as the story actually took place. J.D had a life in the 1940s he brought Holden basically to life by using Holden’s eyes around the world in the 1940s. J.D probably wanted to express his time period as a child or how he thought teens and adults acted in that year

Social issue analysis

Throughout this story Holden faces many insecurities. He never worked hard or stayed on something for school, and he always wanted to find love. Holden would also judge people by first glance, calling people ‘bastards’ or ‘phony’. This book definitely addresses how people with insecurities and mental health issues bring themselves down and how they go through it During the writing of The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger was in the war. J.D. was in distress and faced many mental health issues as well, with everything he witnessed he made a character to take him away from the war and imagine how it would feel back home.

Throughout the ending of the book Holden says to never tell anybody anything and if you do you would miss them, J.D. Salinger probably didn’t want to bring up his family to not miss them during the bloody war he went through, even all the men he met during the war, he didn’t want to experience the pain of losing someone in his life probably. J.D. thought he wouldn’t even make it, he didn’t want to miss everyone.


The strengths throughout this book brought Holden’s true feelings. You got to feel every moment he felt and it moves you so much throughout the story. As well, how the story was written basically like the style of how Holden is was shown and how it was executed. I definitely I like this book and would definitely recommend for people who want to emotionally open up to different types of emotional decisions.


It shows that even a boy who is judgemental, mean, and disgusted with the world can miss people too and be kind. It’s important to know this because anyone could be going through many emotions as much as Holden and would still be good and kind. This book brought different emotions, and it was brought like a rollercoaster.

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The Catcher In The Rye: Plot Summary And Analysis Of Holden Caulfield. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 27, 2023, from
“The Catcher In The Rye: Plot Summary And Analysis Of Holden Caulfield.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
The Catcher In The Rye: Plot Summary And Analysis Of Holden Caulfield. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Sept. 2023].
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