Catcher Notes
  • Coming of age novel – childhood to adulthood
  • What’s the difference?
    • we often talk about the innocence of childhood
    • Two opposites of innocence
      • guilt
      • experience
      • stream-of-consciousness – writing that mimics the words that pass a character’s head
      • colloquial language – how people really talk, in this case teenagers

Characteristics of Holden’s narration
  • Contrasts/Opposites
  • Lying (America’s most famous unreliable narrator)
  • Repetition and emphasis
  • exaggeration
  • gregariousness and withdrawal from people
  • mental illness – depression, anxiety
    • brother Allie’s death, not getting any help
  • How do we know what’s a symbol?
  • symbols help show something important about the story
  • Context, mood, pattern
Holden’s Red Hunting Hat
  • buys it in NYC – after losing all the fencing gear
    • bad day
    • later he puts it on when he’s grumpy or upset
      • sometimes he turns it around
      • whenever is shows up, he’s troubled
      • Some people go further with this symbol
        • Hat is red
        • Allie was a redhead
          • smart, nice, socially adept
  • Phoebe is also a redhead
    • also good with the world
  • Therefore the hat could be a way to connect with Allie, be like him
Museum of Natural History
  • used to go there on school trips
  • it doesn’t change, it’s reliable
    • life has been terrible since Allie’s death – too big a change
    • “every time you go, you’re different, but the museum is the same.”
    • memory of childhood, when life was predictable

Ducks in Central Park
  • Winter is coming – what will they do?
    • Keeps asking cab drivers
    • Another change
      • it worries Holden

Allie’s baseball glove
  • Holden “happens to have it” in his suitcase
  • Still misses Allie – bad change

Catcher in the Rye
  • Holden hears a boy singing it while walking on the curb
    • at the edge of safety and danger
    • Holden gets the song wrong
    • He thinks someone (the Catcher)
      • is catching children as they’re playing
      • kids run too close, fall off cliff
      • Catcher saves them at the bottom
      • tells Phoebe he wants to be the Catcher
        • Catch kids who are falling
        • Protecting kids from?
Falling = change
  • Holden wants to prevent it
  • Mr. Antolini tells H. he’s “headed for a fall”
  • H. worries about Phoebe falling at the carousel
    • worries about her taking a risk
    • decides kids have to try
    • Kids always grow up
      • Except Allie