catcher in the rye book notes

Essay by JayHargraveHigh School, 11th grade April 2003

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Who is this person talking to us so casually in the opening sentences of the

novel? We don't know his name, how old he is, where he's from. In fact, he

dismisses such information as "all that David Copperfield kind of crap," and

begins talking about himself reluctantly, as though our need to hear his story

is much stronger than his need to tell it.

We don't even know it's a boy talking until he mentions an ad his school runs

in "about a thousand magazines" claiming that they turn boys into young

men. We won't know his first name until his visit to a teacher at the end of

the chapter, and we'll have to wait even longer to find out his last name.

No, he isn't going to give us anything as formal as an autobiography. All he

wants to do is tell about "this madman stuff" that resulted in some kind of

illness, from which he's now recuperating in a place not far from Hollywood,


NOTE: As you read on and get to know Holden, you'll begin to see that he

tends to dismiss many important things with throwaway phrases like "this

madman stuff." It's a way of downplaying things that bother him; it makes

him seem untroubled by things; it's a way of sounding tough, something

that's important to many teenage boys.

Holden talks briefly about his brother, D. B., whom he obviously admires.

He's pleased that his brother visits him often. He likes D. B.'s sports car and

the fact that he's rich, and Holden's really proud of a published collection of

D. B.'s short stories. But a tough guy can't say things like that about someone

without backing off a little, so Holden ends by saying that his brother...