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about The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
The Catcher in the Rye
links and recommended

 * * *

Why buy books when you can get individual worksheets
by email attachment?


Who is this cute little kid behind the fence?

Right! It's Allie on his bike, watching his brother Holden play golf 
(chapter 5, art by Suzanne Morine).
And it's an invitation to take a look at my
Catcher in the Rye  GALLERY

The Catcher in the Rye:

NOTE:   Much as I would like to quote many passages from CR, I really can't do it because from what we know about the  Holden Server and other sites Salinger really doesn't like that sort of thing.
1.  "... that David Copperfield kind of crap"
2.  Huck Finn:   First paragraph
3.  Robert Burns: "Comin Thro' the Rye"
4.  Paul Simon: "I am a Rock"
5.  Catcher in the Rye:   The Movie?!  NEW: SCAN OF A LETTER BY SALINGER
6.  References to CR in Fiction, Movies, and Pop Songs
7.  1951
8.  The Small Faces: "Itchycoo Park"
9.  Huck Finn:   Last paragraph
10.  The Catcher and Censorship:  Considered Armed and Dangerous
11.  Bad Company: Books Banned in the USA
12.  Salinger's Holden  vs  Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov
13.  Points of View:   an attempt at a classification
14.  The Cover of the Novel (Hardcover Edition)
15.  An Anecdote about Banned Books and Crafty Teachers
16.  A Photo: The 2 Faces of J.D.Salinger
17.  The Picture of Holden in your Mind
18.  Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
19.  Mark David Chapman (John Lennon's Murderer), and CR
20.  Thoreau:  The West as a Mythical Land
21.  A Photo Album of Holden Caulfield's Odyssey
22.  Pearl Jam:   "Why Go"
23. Stephen Chbosky:  The Perks of Being a Wallflower
24. CR and Cannibalizing: Origins of the Novel
25. Salinger's Catcher and Gardner's Grendel
26. Why (NOT) Read Biographies?
27. July 16, 2001: A Letter to Holden
28. "Where do the ducks go?" - At Last, External Evidence!
29. Names & Psychology in CR
30. Paul Simon: "A Poem on the Underground Wall"


"...that David Copperfield kind of crap"

   Here is the beginning of David Copperfield - in terms of style, content, and structure very different indeed from Holden's way of introducing himself to the reader - or listener, rather (because he is talking to us) ...

   NOTE: (Dec 1, 2004)  Teachers, beware: as Bob Dylan already pointed out, the times they are a-changing:
   For a couple of years now, when I start discussing the first page of the novel in class (which is usually a lot of fun), I have been slightly shocked because students tend to think of David Copperfield THE WORLD FAMOUS MAGICIAN, not the Dickens novel! 
   You may say, "What the dickens?!"
   I say, "Right - I just thought you might want to know..."


I Am Born

   WHETHER I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be(held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was re-marked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously. 
   In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attach-ing, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night. 
   I need say nothing here on the first head, because nothing can show better than my history whether that prediction was verified or falsified by the result. On the second branch of the question, I will only remark, that unless I ran through that part of my inheritance while I was still a baby, I have not come into it yet. 
   But I do not at all complain of having been kept out of this property; and if anybody else should be in the present enjoyment of it, he is heartily welcome to keep it. 
   I was born with a caul  (MY ITALICS - B.W.!) , which was advertised for sale, in the newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea-going people were short of money about that time, or were short of faith and preferred cork jackets, I don’t know; all I know is, that there was but one solitary bidding, and that was from an attorney connected with the bill-broking business, who offered two pounds in cash, and the balance in sherry, but declined to be guaranteed from drowning on any higher bargain. Consequently the advertisement was withdrawn at a dead loss- for as to sherry, my poor dear mother’s own sherry was in the market then- and ten years afterwards the caul* was put up in a raffle down in our part of the country, to fifty members at half a crown a head, the winner to spend five shillings. I was present myself, and I remember to have felt quite uncomfortable and confused, at a part of my-self being disposed of in that way. The caul was won, I recollect, by an old lady with a hand-basket, who, very reluctantly, produced from it the stipulated five shillings, all in halfpence, and twopence halfpenny short- as it took an immense time and a great waste of arithmetic, to endeavour without any effect to prove to her. It is a fact which will be long remembered as remarkable down there, that she was never drowned, but died triumphantly in bed, at ninety-two. I have understood that it was, to the last, her proudest boast, that she never had been on the water in her life, except upon a bridge; and that over her tea (to which she was extremely partial) she, to the last, expressed her in-dignation at the impiety of mariners and others, who had the presumption to go ‘meandering’ about the world. It was in vain to represent to her that some conveniences, tea perhaps included, resulted from this objection-able practice. She always returned, with greater emphasis and with an instinctive knowledge of the strength of her objection, ‘Let us have no meandering.’ Not to meander myself, at present, I will go back to my birth. 
   I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk, or ‘thereby,’ as they say in Scotland. 

   * caul = membrane that holds a fetus (Holden Caulfield:  a protector of the young or innocent?!)

* * *


Huck Finn:  First Paragraph

   Here's the beginning of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain. Huck and Holden have often been compared with each other, and they are very similar indeed. 
   Note how the fictitious narrator is actually commenting on his own creator.

   You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter.  That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.  There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.  That is nothing.  I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary.  Aunt Polly - Tom's Aunt Polly, she is - and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.

* * *


Robert Burns: "Comin Thro' the Rye"

   Phoebe was right: It is "If (Gin) a body meet a body ..." (cp. chapter 22). 
   Thus, the title of the novel - and Holden's quest - gets an ironical twist...

O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry:
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!
Comin thro' the rye, poor body,
Comin thro' the rye,
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!
Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?
Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need the warld ken?
O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry:
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!
PS.   The SONG itself can be found on the following CD:

Balladeer Series: THE STAR O' RABBIE BURNS

* * *


Paul Simon: "I am a Rock"

   This is one of my all-time favourite songs of the sixties (I remember how happy I was at the time when I had finally figured out the guitar chords and the riff that always follows after the chorus). The music itself and the voices of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are magnificent, the lyrics are great, but the reason I put the words here is the following: 
   It is remarkable how many similarities there are concerning the poetic I of this song and Holden Caulfield - from the wintry atmosphere to Holden's love of books. On the other hand, it is also interesting to note the differences - e.g. that Holden needs friendship and wants to "touch" people... 

   PS.  If you don't know the song, try to get hold of it - it's the words and the music together that make it so great.

1. A winter's day
In a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window
To the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.

I am a rock
I am an island

2. I've built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.


3. Don't talk of love
Well, I've heard the word before.
It's sleeping in my memory.
I won't disturb the slumber
Of feelings that have died
If I'd never loved I never would have cried.


4. I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armour.
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me.


And a rock feels no pain.
And an island never cries.

   PS.  On January 5, 2001 Sarah Stockton wrote me the following email:

   at first i liked the comparison between the novel and I AM A ROCK by simon and garfunkel, but now i don't think it's quite right. i don't think that holden has closed himself off because he's  been hurt, exactly. i think he wants to love and be loved and have friends, but he doesn't see anyone worth the trouble, perhaps including himself. (i suppose his avoidence of calling jane could sort of be that, but i don't know.) however, simon and garfunkel do seem very caulfield-like. 
   maybe THE BOXER could be analysed -- the boxer sees "all lies and jest," feels like a child and is "running scared". he seeks "the ragged people" and has been so lonely that he's taken comfort from whores. He threatens to leave, but "still remains." 
   THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK might work too, and i think BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER would work really well. it's like holden's dream of catching children before they fall off a cliff -- "when darkness comes and pain is all around, like a bridge over troubled i will lay me down... i will ease your mind."
   Thanks, Sarah!

* * *


Catcher in the Rye:  The Movie?!

Did you ever wonder ... 

A. ... whether CR should be turned into a movie? 
B. ... whether somebody tried to do it? 

A.    Speaking for myself, I am ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that it should not (and could not) be done - and, if it was done, I would not go and see the movie. 
   Why? Because I would never again be able to recreate the image which I have in my mind of Holden and Jane and Phoebe and all the other characters; they would be fixed to a certain actor, distorted or destroyed. 
   However, I know there are people who wouldn't mind - in 1998 I had a somewhat heated discussion with my students about the topic... 

B.    Yes, there was at least 1 attempt I know of. Towards the end of the 50s director Elia Kazan apparently asked Salinger about the film rights. Rumour has it that Salinger thought about it for a long time, then said to one of his few friends, a neighbour in Cornish, something like "No, I think Holden Caulfield wouldn't like the idea." 
   Now that's a weird argument. But, come to think of it, I guess he is right - just consider what Holden says about his brother D.B. in chapter 1, about Sir Laurence Olivier in chapter 16, etc...


   On June 24, 2000 I added a poll run by (thank you folks) in which people could vote for or against turning CR into a movie. They could  also write a comment if they wished.
   By Dec 22, 2001 almost 2000 people had cast their votes. If you are interested in the outcome and/or some of the comments, take a look at the poll results.

Nov 29, 2009


Here is a special treat:

A scan of a letter JDS wrote
explaining why he won't sell the film & stage rights to CR:



What's more, you can even buy the original letter at

PS: is also interested in buying other Salinger letters.

   March 16, 2001: Having just seen JOHN CUSACK in High Fidelity (and some time ago in One Crazy Summer),  I think he could have played Holden when he was younger (I am not saying he should have, but he might have fit the picture of Holden in my mind somewhat...)
   Nov 5, 2001: Somebody just wrote me an email, saying she based her image of Holden on the John Cusack character in Better off Dead... (I've got to get hold of that movie somehow)
   Then again, on Oct 10, 2001, I received the following email, indicating that there are people in this world who strongly disagree:

   "Holden Caulfield's mind would be in total agony for the duration of the movie because it could not fit into that actor's.  As would mine, because it would not be able to contain my grief.  High Fidelity is surely one of the exhaustively numbing, boring type of entertainment HC found so depressing.  John Cusack is surely one of the phoniest, worst actors currently in orbit.  Please rewatch that movie as many times as it takes for you to realise this, or perish in the attempt. Excuse the blatancy, Liz."

* * *


References to CR in
Fiction, Movies, and Pop Songs

   There are a number of direct references to CR in works of fiction, in movies, and in pop songs. I have collected those here which I know of. If you know any others, I'd appreciate it a lot if you would email me . Thanks!

A. Fiction

  •    April 29, 1999: I've just got an email from Down Under, telling me that there is a reference to CR in "Somerset Maugham", a short story by Truman Capote (from Observations) published by Penguin in A Truman Capote Reader.

  •    I realize that's a bit vague, but I'll try to check it out... Thanks Phoeb anyway!
  • W.P.Kinsella, Shoeless Joe (Ballantine: New York, 1982)

  •   This is the novel which the movie Field of Dreams was based on. In contrast to the film, you'll actually meet J.D.Salinger here as a (non)fictional character. 
       In the Ballantine edition, there is explicit reference to CR on pp. 85ff. and 109f., with the narrator and the (non)fictional Salinger discussing aspects of Holden Caulfield. Highly enjoyable. 
       Oct 23, 1999: I just received permission from Kinsella to quote from this novel. Therefore, if you are interested, go to my new Shoeless Joe page.
  • Ulrich Plenzdorf, Die neuen Leiden des jungen W. (1976)

  • Here's what Edgar Wibeau, the narrator, says about CR: 
        "Der soll sich mal den Salinger durchlesen. Das ist echt, Leute! Ich kann euch nur raten,  ihn zu lesen, wenn ihr ihn irgendwo aufreissen koennt.Reisst euch das Ding unter den Nagel, wenn ihr es bei irgendwem stehen seht, und gebt es nicht wieder her! Leiht es euch aus und gebt es nicht wieder zurück. Ihr sagt einfach, ihr habt es verloren. Das kostet 5 Mark, na und?"
         You are right - this is German. Now, just in case your German is pretty weak and I had to translate that into English, it might look like this: 
         "He should go and read Salinger. That's the real thing, folks! I can only advise you to read it, if you get hold of it someplace. You just nail it when you see it standing at somebody's place, and don't give it back. You just say you lost it. That's 5 Marks, so what?"
  • Charles Schulz, The Peanuts

  •    The humanity of CR possibly resembles the humanity of The Peanuts, the, in my humble opinion, best comic strip in the world.
       In one of these strips, Linus once again persuades Sally to sit in the pumpkin patch and wait for the Great Pumpkin on Halloween. Of course, the Great Pumpkin does not show up, and Sally is furious. In her anger, she ponders suing Linus, then she shouts at him, "I'm never going to speak to you again! I wouldn't speak to you if I met you on the street, on the ocean, in the air or on the moon!"
       Here is Linus's reaction...

   Now that might possibly increase his chances somewhat...

       Feb 5, 2000: just got the following email: "Kevin Smith (the screenwriter) also wrote an eight-issue story for the comic book DAREDEVIL.
  • In issue #4, Daredevil's nemesis, Bullseye (a psychotic assassin, 'natch), 
    can be seen reading from CATCHER.  In issue #5, Daredevil enters a church where his mother, a nun, lives, and finds she had been brutally beaten by Bullseye, who is still hiding in the church.  He begins by singing "When a body meets a body, coming through the rye...".  He then adds, "Wry--ain't it, Red? [referring to the carnage and killing]  If you're the literary type, you'll be able to call this one, Devil.  No?  C'mon--it's too easy. You're the catcher, get it?  You're the catcher in the wry.  But you know what every good catcher needs?  A pitcher!"  And Bullseye proceeds to hurl throwing stars at Daredevil.  Not the best reference to the book (being mostly a play on words sort of thing), but still the first CATCHER ref in a comic book, I'd venture."
       Thanks a lot, Justin!
  • 'Tis by Frank McCourt
    On Jan 30, 2000 I got the following email: "On your website devoted to Catcher in the Rye, you mentioned numerous books and songs etc. that had something to do with Catcher in the Rye. You did however miss one: 'Tis by Frank McCourt. In it, McCourt tells of the problems he has getting his students to become interested in reading so he purchases copies of Catcher in the Rye for all of them, only to have them confiscated by school officials in class a few days later. (chapter 47, 307-9)"
       Thanks, Alicia!

  • Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty
    May 5, 2000. I just read that novel and came across the following reference (the chapters have the names of months, this quote is taken from JULY):
    "I finished Restaurant (at the End of the Universe) and started Catcher in the Rye. 'This will change your life,' Hippy had told me. Well, it needed changing..."
    10 lines further down it says: "The little one, Bryn, ... just wouldn't stop talking. ... I hate people talking to me when I'm reading" That reminded me somehow of chapter 3 in CR where Holden is disturbed by Ackley; when Ackley asks whether the book Holden is reading is any good, Holden answers in this beautiful sarcastic way, "This sentence I'm reading is terrific."


B. Movies

  • Conspiracy Theory (1997)

  •    This is the movie starring Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. Gibson plays Jerry, a (seemingly) paranoid New York cab driver thinking there is a conspiracy behind everything. 
        For some reason,  Jerry compulsively buys all the copies of CR he can get hold of. At one point, when he buys yet another copy,  this is picked up by a central monitoring agency who despatch black helicopters and men on motorcycles to capture Jerry. 
       As far as I can remember, the whole CR bit is rather superficial, though. 
  • April 25, 1999: A visitor to this website emails me the following:

  •    "Just a quick note to tell you about a film you didn't mention on your list. The movie Six Degrees of Separation (1993) has a whole scene in which the main characters dicuss the Catcher in the Rye and its involvement and influence of various crimes." 
       Thanks Josephine! 
       PS. The German film title is Leben - ein Sechserpack
  • July 21, 1999: Just got an email from Brazil (agradeça-o muito muito, Almir Aires Tovar Filho!) telling me that in the 1998 movie Pleasantville there are lots of references to CR.
  • On August 4, 1999 I got an email (thanks a lot, Jonathan!) telling me about the following:

  •    "... recently when I was home watching television, I came upon a show that used the Catcher in the Rye as its whole plot.  The name of the show was Working, its star was the star from "The Wonder Years", Fred Savage. In the show he gave his boss a copy of Catcher in the Rye to read while he was on his vacation.  When his boss came back from vacation he told his employees he was quitting his job to live a life like Holden Caulfield.   The show even went as far as rewriting the end of the novel to try to persuade their boss to come back to work.  During the show the boss was shown wearing a red hunting cap and feeding the ducks at a frozen pond.  This is just another example of Catcher in the Rye in a show or sitcom. ..." 
       PS.  Anybody knows the name of the star Jonathan is referring to?
    Feb 9, 2001: Josie Chea writes: "
    His name is Maurice Godin (he plays Tim Deale on the show),  the episode is called "The Brown Noser"." Thanks!
  • Dec 4, 1999: Looks like there is a new movie going into production called In Search of Holden Caulfield. It's being produced by Abandon Entertainment with a $10 million budget, directed by Bo Zenga, and is described as "the story of Miles Ashton, who is expelled during his freshman year of college and doomed to a military-school future."
  • Feb 5, 2000: just got the following email: "Kevin Smith (the guy who wrote the movies CLERKS, MALLRATS, CHASING AMY, and DOGMA) seems to be a fan of the book. In CHASING AMY, the main character's (Ben Affleck's) name is Holden MacNeil. His best friend (Jason Lee) has the name of Banky Edwards (or, to flip it around, Ed Banky).  The film's characters bear no resemblence to the novel's characters or anything, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless."
    Thanks a lot, Justin!
  • Toward the end of  Woody Allen's Annie Hall, Alvy helps Annie move out. Here's an extract from the screenplay:

   ALVY (holding up a book) Whose Catcher in the Rye is this?

   ANNIE (walking into the room with an armload of books) Well, let's see now... If it has my name on it, then I guess it's mine.

   ALVY (reacting)  Oh, it sure has... You know, you wrote your name in all my books, cos you knew this day was gonna come.

  • Nov 17, 2000:    Just happened to see parts of  the 1994 movie Threesome on TV. In a discussion between the 3 major actors, Stephen Baldwin claims he feels like Holden Caulfield. Josh Charles objects to that, pointing out that Baldwin rather resembles Stradlater, then tells Lara Flynn Boyle that she would like Phoebe.
  • On Feb 28, 2001, I got the following email:
       "in the movie the sixth sense the main character, the little boy has a gray tuft of hair behind his right ear. if i'm not mistaken holden describes himself having a gray section of hair behind his right ear. again, the little boy in "the sixth sense" wears one of those hunting hats that holden bought, and always seems to have with him. i don't know if that's intended, but the plot and characters have some close similarities to cr."
       Thanks, David Feil!

    On Feb 24, 2002, Christopher M. adds the info that "Holden talks to dead people (Allie) just like the lead character in the movie does."

    Thanks, Chris!

  • Philipp Hueveler writes the following in May 2001 (translated):
    "There is an allusion to CR in THE SIMPSONS
    In his youth, Bart, the small and unpredictable son of the family, puts his little sister on a carousel, then seems to realize that he has to accept some responsibility for her..."
    Now, that does look like an allusion (apart from the fact that Holden realizes that he need NOT worry about Phoebe...)
    Thanks anyway, Phil
  • In the movie Same Time, Next Year Alan Alda falls in love with Ellen Burstyn after having spent only one night with her and says, " I'm in trouble. I think I'm in love with you... and I don't even know if you've read Catcher in the Rye!"

    Muchas gracias to Connie Bellocq from Argentina

  • John D. from Canada wrote on 30-12-01:

       ... I immediately thought of the movie Jerry Maguire with Tom
    Cruise.  In case you didn't see it, there is a scene where Jerry (Cruise) goes to a photo copy place to make a cover for his mission statement.  in the movie, Jerry is a sports agent who, like Holden, hates the materialism and "phoniness" of his profession.  He has a crisis of conscious one nightand writes a mission statement, stating what the industry should do to bebetter and more realistic.  When he goes to the copy place, he creates a simple looking cover page, entitled " The Things We Think and Do Not Say:   The Key to Success in our Business". The scene is narrated by voice-over by Cruise and he states "Even the title looked like The Catcher in The Rye!"  I forget how the title looked, it may have looked like an earlier cover of the book when it was published. You should see the movie and maybe you can tell if it really does. 
       I also think that the similarities between the movie and the book go on from there, in particular Jerry and Holden.  Both characters are depressed and angry about their lives and where the future has in store for them.  Jerry has a realization, after a little son of one of his clients tells him to fuck off, that he is a phony just like the other agents. Holden, of course, despises phoniness above all things. Because of his realization, Jerry one night almost has an emotional breakdown that inspires him to write his mission statement. 
       Holden battles with manic depression throughout the book,
    citing many times that he wants to die, has an anxiety attack and passes out in the museum bathroom and eventually becomes insitutionalized in the end because maybe he had a complete breakdown. Holden's realization about his life may have been when he overhears a little kid singing a poem that he thinks goes " see a body/catch a body/ comin thro' the rye". When asked by Phoebe what he wants to be and to name something he likes, he tells her that, because of the poem lyric, he invisioned a field of rye where many little kids play.  He stands at the edge of a cliff and catches them if they come to close to the edge, symbolizing his desire to protect others, mostly his little sister, from the phoniness of the real world.  
       Jerry also wants his collegues to be ridden of
    phoniness and concentrate on what's important: the well being of their clients. Because of his mission statement, Jerry is fired and when he asks for anyone to join him in his new and "Real" agent firm, he is only helped by Dorothy who becomes his supporter, like Phoebe, and takes with him a goldfish (like D.B.'s "Secret Goldfish" that holden loved.)    
       In the end, when he has exprienced phoniness and ruthless materialism by all around him, his only joy comes in his relationship with dorothy (phoebe) and her son (little kids kill holden) and his best friend a football player. In the end of catcher, Holden's only joy comes in his love for phoebe and watching her on the carousel as she waves to him and for the first time in the novel, he is happy and is hopeful. 
       "Jerry Maguire" also ends with Jerry
    and Dorothy in happiness as they walk through a park. I suppose the only difference is that Jerry's future is much brighter than holden's.
    Thanks, John!
   On Feb 3, 2002, I received another email from John:

      I found another catcher in the rye reference in the movie Almost Famous, the movie about the 15 yr old who goes on the road with a rock band. Anyway, on the bootleg DVD version called "Almost Famous/Untitled Bootleg Director's  Version" or something like that. if you listen to the director's commentary, there's a scene where the two lead characters are walking along the lagoon in Central park. The director talks about how he was inspired by the book to shoot the scene. He doesn't go into much detail about it, but it's a nice scene. He does mention the ducks. you can see the whole lake in it, it looks great. By the way, both jerry maguire and this movie were both directed by cameron crowe. It's a great movie. Hope that's helpful.

   It is! Thanks a lot, John!

   On Jan 31, 2002, David A. from Spain writes:

   Anyway, the allusion to CR in a movie that I had sent you before was in John Fowles' The Collector.  I do not know if the book actually discusses CR, but in the movie that they made of Fowles' novel they actually do.  Here is how it goes: A man who enjoys collecting butterflies actually kidnaps a beautiful girl.  He has her locked in the basement and often goes down to see her, take her food, and talk with her.  In one of the passages of the movie (and I guess also of the book) both of them are discussing literature (she is an art student) and they start talking about CR.  He mentions that he does not like the book at all, that the argument is silly, the character of Holden ridiculous and the whole thing pointless. She, on the other hand, has nothing but praise for the book and for Holden.

   Muchas gracias, David!

   On Feb 2, 2002, I got an email from Elisabeth S. from Germany, pointing out that there might be allusions to CR in FORREST GUMP:

Jenny (Curran) - Jenny (in Robert Burns' poem)
In the movie the kids hide from Jenny's father - not in a rye field, but a corn field. Also, the scene is angst-ridden, just like Holden's idea of having to catch the children, so Forrest resembles Holden.
Forrest protects Jenny from the phonies; later Jenny "prostitutes" herself...

   Thanks, Lisa!

Sept 16, 2006

   Here's a really good movie with lots of DIRECT references to CR:

   THE GOOD GIRL - starring Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, John C. Reilly, Tim Blake Nelson, and Zooey Deschanel.

   A good summary can be found at Wikipedia. Here are some similarities:

  • the character played by Gyllenhaal reads CR and calls himself Holden (his real name Tom is, as he says, his "slave name")
  • his surname is Worther - a subtle reference to Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, which itself is similar to CR
  • he is a loner - nobody except Justine, the Aniston character, "gets him" - a phrase repeated several times
  • he wants to elope with Justine (although she is married), which is similar to Holden and Sally
  • (spoiler warning!) in the end, the Gyllenhaal character kills himself

   However, there are also basic differences:

  • When compared with Holden Caulfield, Holden Worther is, in my opinion, much too negative and depressed, lacking the wit and the humour of Holden C. (which is, however, played very well by Gyllenhaal)
  • this may actually be in part due to the very important fact that we cannot look inside him. The whole movie is seen through Justine's eyes - in fact, voice over is often employed, which is obviously supposed to represent her thoughts and feelings. Since we cannot look inside Holden Worther's head, we do not know what he really thinks - in contrast to Holden Caulfield.

   Still, in my opinion it is a very good film - lots of funny scenes, lots of sad scenes, lots of interesting dialogue, plus very good acting.

   PS: The screenplay was written by Mike White, the "Bible guy" in the movie!


C. Pop Songs

  • Green Day: "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?"

  • Here's a part of the lyrics: 
        There's a boy who fogs his world
         and now he's getting lazy
         There's no motivation and
         frustration makes him crazy
         He makes a plan to take a stand
         but always ends up sitting.
         Someone help him up or he's
         gonna end up quitting
  • Offspring: "Get it Right"

  • Here's the part of the lyrics referring to Holden: 
         Do you think you'd sell your soul
         To just have one thing to turn out right?
         For the thousandth time you turn and find
         That it just makes no difference to try
         Like Holden Caulfield, I tell myself
         There's got to be a better way
         Then I lay in bed and stare at the ceiling
         Dream of brighter days
  • Screeching Weasel: "I Wrote Holden Caulfield"

  •    Here are the lyrics which, according to a fan who wrote me an email on Nov 18, 2000, "really capture the essence of The Catcher in the Rye and make you better understand Holden's view of the world."

    i loved you for the minute when you decided to tell me the truth
    i heard you and that night i cried for you
    i know that you're alone just like everyone else in the world
    don't tell me that things don't get better 'cause sometimes they do
    sometimes they do
    and i know they will for you
    the days are getting shorter and you're forgetting the things you just said
    i'm hoping, yeah i'm hoping that you'll move ahead
    i wonder if you'll ever come to realize what i always knew
    that i wrote holden caulfield and so did you
    i wanna know, i wanna know if you wanna give up
    i wanna know, i wanna know if you want to wake up
    i wanna know, i wanna know if you wanna give up
    i wanna know when you'll stop dying for what you've done
    stop crying, oh yeah, for what you've done
    for what you've done, for what you've done
    it's only the past
    it's only life
    what have you done? Done that's so bad
    it's only life
    so don't waste time
    why don't you stop crying for what's done?
    for what is done?

NOTE:  On May 10, 2001  I received the following email:

"Hey, I was just glancing through your section about musical references to Catcher in the Rye and I have a few things to add. First of all, it may come as some intrest that the Screeching Weasel song "I Wrote Holden Caulfield" was written at least partialy in response to the Green Day song "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield." The two bands are very good freinds and it was intended as a little inside joke. Second, I am in a band called simply "Caulfield." We are a punk band from Detroit, MI. We also have a song called "Where are you Holden Caulfield?" While some have already interpreted this as being a third in the series, it was written without that intention. However, we do not resent the implication (being big fans of both Green Day and Screeching Weasel). In case anyone is interested, our website is located at We are releasing our first full-length CD on Storm Records in June and will be touring the US east of the Mississippi later this summer. Third, "The Caulfields" broke up years ago and all of their recordings are currently out of print. Thanks a lot, I think you have a really cool site."

                                                    -Kevin McCoy

  • Too Much Joy: "William Holden Caulfield"

  • Here's an interesting part of the song: 
         I'm afraid of people who like Catcher in the Rye
         yeah, I like it too, but someone tell me why
         people he'd despise say I feel like that guy
  • May 14, 1999: A visitor emails me that there is a Canadian band who are called
  • The Caulfields, apparently after Holden.I've tried to check this out, but it turns out that so far the links do not work, or access is denied (wow!)... 
       Thanks Adrienne! 
  • May 23, 1999: Just got an email telling me that  in "Shadrach", a song on their 1989 album Paul's Boutique, the Beastie Boys claim that "I got more hits than J.D. Salinger".

  •    Thanks a lot Aimee!
  • Apparently there is a Canadian band called The Catcher & the Rye. I don't know what the name is supposed to signify, but the band consists of 2 people. What's more, they have their own homepage .
  • Jan 16, 2000: Someone on the Bananafish mailing list writes that on the new Guns 'N Roses CD, due out in the spring, is a song called "Catcher in the Rye"
  • CR is briefly referred to in Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire".

  • For the complete lyrics go to ... ?
  •    On May 14, 2001, Whitney Johnson wrote the following email:
       "I thought I would let you know that there is a group called
    Piebald who have a song called "Holden Caulfield" from their album When Life Hands You Lemons.  
       The lyrics are:

     I'd rather take the long way home
    I'd rather get lost on the side walk
    The wind blew so hard last night
    Where do the ducks go in the winter time
    Put on my hat and get out of here
    This is the first time in twenty years
    I've waited forever it's almost here
    I'll still be dancing when it all comes down
    I run through the field
    Hope to be caught on the other side
    All your kings lined up in the back row
    The wind blew so hard past your window.

    Thanks so much, Whitney!

  • On Nov 5, 2001, I received an email from Rachel Price, telling me about a song by DIVINE COMEDY called Gin Soaked Boy. There is only one brief reference to CR in it, but the whole text appealed to me, so I copied all of it. Here it is - and thanks a lot, Rachel!
    I'm the darkness in the light
    I'm the leftness in the right
    I'm the rightness in the wrong
    I'm the shortness in the long
    I'm the goodness in the bad
    I'm the saneness in the mad
    I'm the sadness in the joy
    I'm the gin in the gin soaked boy
    The gin soaked boy...

    I'm the ghost in the machine
    I'm the genius in the gene
    I'm the beauty in the beast
    I'm the sunset in the East
    I'm the ruby in the dust
    I'm the trust in the mistrust
    I'm the Trojan Horse in Troy
    I'm the gin in the gin soaked boy
    The gin soaked boy...

    I'm the tiger's empty cage
    I'm the mystery's final page
    I'm the stranger's lonely glance
    I'm the hero's only chance
    I'm the undiscovered land
    I'm the single grain of sand
    I'm the Christmas morning toy
    I'm the gin in the gin soaked boy
    The gin soaked boy...

    I'm the world you'll never see
    I'm the slave you'll never free
    I'm the truth that you'll never know
    I'm the place you'll never go
    I'm the sound you'll never hear
    I'm the course you'll never steer
    I'm the will you'll not destroy
    I'm the gin in the gin soaked boy
    The gin soaked boy...

    I'm the half truth in the lie
    I'm the why not in the why
    I'm the last roll of the die
    I'm the old school in the tie
    I'm the spirit in the sky
    I'm the catcher in the rye
    I'm the twinkle in her eye
    I'm Jeff Goldblum in 'The Fly'
    Well who am I?

  •    Nov 16, 2001: Suzanne Morine tells the Bananafish mailing list that "this Detroit area punk band Caulfield recently released their first album: Sleep tight, ya morons." 
       Check out their Neat Cover Art .
       (I always loved that quote from the end of chapter 7 - used to laugh my head off)
  •    In 1969 a band called Fever Tree issued an album called Creation, which sported a track called THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.  If anybody has got the lyrics, let me know!

* * *



   In 1951 a couple of remarkable things happened which are most likely coincidental, but uncannily so; to wit:

  • The Catcher in the Rye is published
  • Phil Collins is born
  • It so happens I am also born
  • The Peanuts, created by Charles Schulz, are celebrating their first birthday
  • (undoubtedly the most human comic strip ever made) 
  • Tom Petty is crawling around, sometimes free fallin', but he won't back down - he is already 1 year old
  • Wolfgang Niedecken is born (genau - der Sänger von BAP)
  • It is 66 years to a tee that Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published (1885), the narrator and central character of which has so often been compared with Holden Caulfield
  • The term Rock 'n' Roll is used for the first time
  • Bill Bryson is born - author of The Lost Continent, the funniest travel story I've read
  • cont

* * *


"Itchycoo Park"

   "Itchycoo Park" is a song by the Small Faces, written by Steve Marriott and Ronny Lane. In September 1967 it climbed the UK charts up to #3, and in January 1968 it climbed up to #16 in the US. 

   First of all, it is a very nice song in its own right - just listen to it. (It was also pretty experimental at the time, e.g. because of the phased drums.)  Second, there are a number of interesting parallels between the lyrics and CR, especially: 

  • Itchycoo/Central Park as the setting
  • the ducks
  • the narrator's aversion to school
  • the overall positive atmosphere evoked by the park and the ducks
Over bridge of sighs
To rest my eyes in shades of green
Under dreamin' spires
To Itchycoo Park, that's where I've been

(What did you do there?)  I got high
(What did you feel there?)  Well, I cried
(But why the tears there?)  I'll tell you why

It's all too beautiful
It's all too beautiful
It's all too beautiful
It's all too beautiful

I feel inclined to blow my mind
get hung up feed the ducks with a bun
They all come out to groove about
be nicer than fun in the sun

Tell you what I'll do  (What will you do?)
I'd like to go there now with you
You can miss out school   (Won't that be cool)
Why go to learn the words of fools

(What will we do there?)  We'll get high
(What will we touch there?)  We'll touch the sky
(But why the tears there?)  I'll tell you why

It's all too beautiful ...

I feel inclined to blow my mind ...

It's all too beautiful ...

* * *


Huck Finn:  Last Paragraph

    Here's the last paragraph from Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It is interesting for at least 2 reasons: 

  • There is a striking parallel between this paragraph and the last (very short) chapter in CR, because Huck is not exactly satisfied with having written the book, and Holden also claims not to be too happy about having told people about all this stuff (sorry I can't quote here!)

  • Huck plans to "light out for the territory", and Holden also repeatedly intends to go West, e.g. in chapters 21 and 25

     Tom's most well now, and got his bullet around his neck on a watch-guard for a watch, and is always seeing what time it is, and so there ain't nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I'd 'a' knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn't 'a' tackled it, and ain't a-going to no more.  But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it.  I been there before. 

 * * *


The Catcher and Censorship:
Considered Armed and Dangerous

   In December 1999 Understanding The Catcher in the Rye by Pinsker/Pinsker was published.* 
   On January 3, 2000 I received permission from Professor Sanford Pinsker to quote from chapter 2, "Censorship of The Catcher in the Rye", of his book 
   Additional information may also be found on the internet at Censored Books in the USA , where it is said that CR is often considered "dangerous" because of vulgarity, occultism, violence and sexual content...

   * Sanford and Ann Pinsker, Understanding The Catcher in the Rye (Greenwood Press: Westport, Connecticut; London, 1999)

1951 publication of CR
1955 first attempts to ban CR
1960 banned in Louisville, Kentucky; teacher fired for requiring it
1961 Oklahoma City wholesalers attacked for carrying the book
1979 removed from the required reading list in Middleville, Michigan
1980 removed from school libraries of the Jackson-Milton District in North Jackson, Ohio
1985 banned from Freeport High School English class in De Funiak Springs, Florida
1986 removed from the English class required reading list from senior high school in Medicine Bow, Wyoming
1989 banned from the high school in Boron, California
1992 challenged at Jamaica High School in Sidell, Illinois
1993 challenged as required reading for the Unified School District in Norco, California
1996 used to build a case by a student protesting censorship of a student publication
1997 challenged as required reading by a student in Brunswick, Georgia
"There's always somebody counting the bad words and missing the point."
Matthew Freeman, People for the American Way 
(anticensorship group, Washington D.C.)
PS.  See also the anecdote (# 15)
   March 18, 2001:  There is a new book by Pam Steinle:

In Cold Fear : The Catcher in the Rye Censorship Controversies and Postwar American Character

   Minor problem: it costs $45...
   However, if you go to the following address at, you'll get a very long extract from the introduction (i mean VERY).
   Here's the beginning of that excerpt:

"In the fall of 1982, approximately fifty Baptist ministers, with the support of school officials and other community leaders, banned seven books from the school libraries of Calhoun County, Alabama: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1963), The Way of Love by John Cunningham and Frances Hanckel (1979), Doris Day: Her Own Story (1975), No Place to Run by Barbara Beasley Murphy (1977), J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (1951), and two of John Steinbeck's novels: East of Eden (1952) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939). To those unfamiliar with American book censorship in the period following World War II, this may appear to be a rather odd collection of titles--the autobiography of Hollywood’s perennial Cold War sweetheart Doris Day paired with the gritty realism of John Steinbeck’s fictionalized tales of labor and personal strife; an early 1950s "contemporary classic" about an adolescent, The Catcher in the Rye, and a late 1970s bestseller in popular paperback fiction written for adolescents, No Place to Run. One might find it strange that of those involved in the Calhoun County incident, only the librarian had actually read the majority of the books cited and some of the "censors" had not read one--or even a portion of one--of the books in question. Stranger still might seem the later discovery that one of the books, Steinbeck's East of Eden, had never been on the shelves of the challenged libraries in the first place.

As one becomes acquainted with American censorship in the post-war period, however, these oddities form a recognizable pattern. Book lists that appear almost random in their selection of titles, a lack of familiarity with the texts among those attempting to remove or restrict them, the "banning" of books already absent from libraries, the focus on adolescent or "young adult" reading materials, and the engagement of religious leaders, educators and school administrators, parents and other community members in censorship action and debate: each of these are among the defining characteristics of contemporary American censorship. Furthermore, it is an experience that was repeated with increasing frequency over the first thirty years following the end of WWII and continues today. Attempts to censor high school literature and the often heated controversies that surround them have occurred in every region of the United States, averaging nearly forty reported incidents per year, and leaving few school boards and communities untouched. ..."

* **


Bad Company: Books Banned in the USA

    The following list is mainly based on Banned in the U.S.A. by Herbert N. Foerstel. It shows some of the fifty books - among them of course CR - that were most frequently challenged in schools and public libraries in the United States in the early 90s. Amazing.

  • The Catcher in the Rye  by J.D. Salinger
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  by Mark Twain
  • (due to alleged racism - of all the things!) 
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  by Mark Twain
  • The Grapes of Wrath  by John Steinbeck
  • Of Mice and Men  by John Steinbeck
  • Little Red Riding Hood  by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
  • (No kidding!  An illustrated edition was banned in two California school districts in 1989. Following the Little Red-Cap story from Grimm's Fairy Tales, the book shows the heroine taking food and wine to her grandmother. The school districts cited concerns about the use of alcohol in the story.) 
  • Lord of the Flies  by William Golding
  • Slaughterhouse 5  by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Color Purple  by Alice Walker
  • Twelfth Night  by William Shakespeare
  • cont
 * * *

Salinger's Holden
Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov

   I recently bumped into a website in which Elisabeth Pezzolla compares the characters of Holden in CR with Raskolnikov in Feodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. The similarities are very striking indeed; in fact, one wonders whether Salinger sort of "borrowed" a little bit from Dostoevsky here. 
   Since I wouldn't just copy the essay into this website, and since the email I sent to Pezzolla failed to be delivered, I thought I'd just give you the link to her webpage here...

NOTE:  I found the essay fascinating although I never read Crime and Punishment - but then again I might soon, because of the essay...

 A Critical Comparison of the characters of Raskolnikov in Feodor Dostoevsky's 
Crime And Punishment and Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s Catcher In Rye 
NOTE: The novel itself can be found online at Bartleby.

Here is the beginning:

ON an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.
  He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. His garret was under the roof of a high, five-storied house, and was more like a cupboard than a room. The landlady, who provided him with garret, dinners, and attendance, lived on the floor below, and every time he went out he was obliged to pass her kitchen, the door of which invariably stood open. And each time he passed, the young man had a sick, frightened feeling, which made him scowl and feel ashamed. He was hopelessly in debt to his landlady, and was afraid of meeting her.
  This was not because he was cowardly and abject, quite the contrary; but for some time past he had been in an overstrained, irritable condition, verging on hypochondria. He had become so completely absorbed in himself, and isolated from his fellows that he dreaded meeting, not only his landlady, but any one at all. He was crushed by poverty, but the anxieties of his position had of late ceased to weigh upon him. He had given up attending to matters of practical importance; he had lost all desire to do so. Nothing that any landlady could do had a real terror for him. But to be stopped on the stairs, to be forced to listen to her trivial, irrelevant gossip, to pestering demands for payment, threats and complaints, and to rack his brains for excuses, to prevaricate, to lie—no, rather than that, he would creep down the stairs like a cat and slip out unseen.
  This evening, however, on coming out into the street, he became acutely aware of his fears...
  * * *

Points of View
(an attempt at a classification)

   Any person who starts to write a novel or a short story - Salinger, you, me, anybody - has to make one crucial decision, be it consciously or not: he has to select a certain point of view. That means, the author creates a certain narrator who tells the story. Sometimes author and narrator might be (almost) identical, but in most cases they are not - which is why one should be careful and not mix up the two terms. 
   Basically, the writer has one big choice: the narrator can be either "inside" the story, that means he himself is one of the characters, or he can be "outside" the story. Thus, we will have a so-called first-person vs a third-person point of view (pov):

What kind of narrator
am I going to create
narrator "inside" the story
 narrator "outside" the story
   First-Person Point of View

   Obviously - and I bet also deliberately - Salinger chose a first-person pov, having Holden Caulfield tell his own story. Thus Holden, the I-narrator, not only recalls what happened to him but also freely comments on everything - events, people, his own behaviour, etc; which is what makes this pov so rich. On the other hand, it is also, in a sense, very limited and possibly one-sided or unreliable, because everything is seen through the eyes of this one character. 
   If opting for this pov, the author again has an alternative: he can choose between a narrator who is at the same time the central character or protagonist of the story (like Holden), and a narrator who is a minor character  and merely acts as a kind of witness.

 What role is the
narrator going to
play among the
 central                                          not central 
  • Salinger: CR
  • Salinger: For Esme
  • (part 1)
  • Salinger: I'm Crazy
  • Poe: Tell-Tale Heart 
  • Huck Finn 
  • Treasure Island 
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • Groom: Forrest Gump
  • Kesey: 
  • Cuckoo's Nest
  • Theroux:
  • Mosquito Coast
  • Thomas Berger:
  • Little Big Man
  • cont

NOTE: The underlined titles are (of course) clickable and will take you to extracts from those works.

Third-Person Point of View

   On the other hand, the author can decide to make his narrator stay completely "outside" the story. If so, he then has to make up his mind as to the sources of information the narrator has access to: if he opts for a Hemingway-like narrator, he will have him tell the story as an observer without any access to the characters' thoughts and feelings. Thus this kind of narrator can very appropriately be compared with a camera, which also just describes the external action. (By the way - that's exactly why it was relatively easy to turn The Graduate into a movie.) 
   If, however, he chooses to create a narrator who can also look inside a character (internal action), he will basically face the following alternative: 
   a. He may create an omniscient narrator who is God-like in the sense that he has access to all the characters' thoughts and feelings and who may also freely comment on their behaviour, etc. 
   b. He could also opt for a limited point of view; that means the narrator has only access to the thoughts and feelings of one particular character (maybe two, or, as in Animal Farm, a group of characters). This character would thus become the protagonist of the story and would be the one the reader identifies with. 
   I suppose it goes without saying that CR would have been a complete flop if Salinger had used an observer point of view, because we would not be able to look inside Holden and would thus lose all his (internal) comments, digressions, etc. 
   As for the omniscient or the limited point of view, it is interesting to speculate what kind of effect either would have (had) on CR. For example, the story would be very different indeed if we could also look inside the minds of Spencer, Jane, Sally, and Phoebe, to name just the important ones. Then again, Salinger might have toyed with the idea of using a limited point of view: the reader would then be able to look inside Holden's mind (which would be somewhat similar to the first-person point of view Salinger actually used) plus the narrator, who is outside the story, might comment on Holden's or other people's behaviour.(This is, by the way, what Salinger did in "For Esme - with Love and Squalor" - right in the middle of the short story he switches from a first-person pov to a limited third-person pov.)

 What sources
of information
does the narrator
have access to?
external +
only external
To the minds of
how many characters
does the narrator
have access to?
only one
  • Jane Austen:
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Tom Wolfe:
  • Bonfire of the Vanities
  • John Nichols:
  • Milagro Beanfield War
  • Salinger:
  • For Esme (part 2)
  • Orwell: Animal Farm
  • Amis: Lucky Jim
  • cont
  • Webb:
  • The Graduate
  • Hemingway:
  • The Killers
  • Shirley Jackson:
  • The Lottery
  • cont
© B. Wahlbrinck 99
   * * *

The Cover of the Novel 
(Hardcover Edition)

   When I first saw the cover of the original (hardcover) edition of CR I thought it featured some kind of a red horse pierced by a kind of lance or something, and I wondered what that was supposed to mean. The second time I looked at it (real hard), it suddenly dawned on me that it was supposed to be a horse on a carousel, which is of course an allusion to the carousel scene with Phoebe in the second last chapter. 
   If you are interested, click on  The Cover , and you'll be taken to a photo of the cover provided by 

PS. See also #17 on this page.

   * * *

An Anecdote about Banned Books 
and Crafty Teachers

   Lately I came across the following fabulously funny anecdote, in which the banned books return with a vengeance...

   In High School I considered the banned book list my summer reading list.  In my high school we also had a pretty crafty English teacher who had the list posted on the wall. She kept the books in a strong box in her closet.  (she used to like to show the covers to the class)  Every year she'd recruit a few seniors to spread the rumor that the combination was 12-34-02 for the lock.  Inevitably people stole books from the box.  I stole 1984. (isn't it funny our school banned this book) 
   She later told me she his tons of copies of these books in her garage at home that she gets from flea markets and the like. She hopes they get stolen.  Thank you Mrs. H, for understanding simple teen psychology.
   PS. On Nov 18, 2000, I received an email containing the following remark about a very different teacher...

   "I just recently read Catcher in the Rye for my English class, but I read it in only two days, because my teacher was trying to ruin it by making us edit out the swearing when we read aloud to the class...."


   * * *

A Photo:
The 2 Faces of J.D.Salinger

   A new biography of Salinger has just been published by Paul Alexander. If you go to this place at, you will find the front cover of that book. Now, what is remarkable about that is the fact that there are two photos in one: you get the young and the old Salinger, sort of standing side by side, looking in the same direction, giving the impression that we actually see two different people and/or two personae of the same human being. Very thought-provoking...

  * * *

The Picture of Holden in your Mind

   One of the main differences between reading a novel and watching a film is the fact that the novelist makes every reader create a picture of the characters in his mind, whereas the director literally makes the spectator "see" the characters. In order to demonstrate that the picture created in the reader's mind depends to some (a large?) degree on the reader himself, I have copied the front cover of a European CR edition. It is striking because it shows a Holden Caulfield who, because of his hairstyle, looks a lot like a sixties kid - probably because that's what the artist had in mind. However, a close reading of the novel reveals that Holden has a crewcut - something Sally criticizes in chapter 17...

Some crewcut!
  * * *

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

   In chapter 25, when Phoebe gets on the carrousel in Central Park, the song that is being played is "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes". I like the lyrics, and, come to think of it, they might have some significance...
   So here they are.


They asked me how I knew 
My true love was true
I of course replied
Something here inside 
Cannot be denied

They said someday you'll find 
All who love are blind
When your heart's on fire
you must realise
Smoke gets in your eyes

So I chaffed them and I gaily laughed
To think they could doubt my love
Yet today my love has flown away
I am without my love

Now laughing friends deride
Tears I cannot hide
So I smile and say
When a lovely flame dies
Smoke gets in your eyes
Smoke gets in your eyes

   May 9, 2002: I've often wondered what the song itself might be like, so today I am really surprised when I watch THE MAKING OF "AMERICAN GRAFFITI", one of my favourite movies (available on DVD now), and George Lucas comments on the fact that they play this very song in the gym...
* * *

Mark David Chapman (John Lennon's Murderer)
and CR


   Color footage of the DICK CAVETT Show. Dick Cavett stands up as he introduces Forrest. 
Dick Cavett : Here he is, Forrest Gump, right here. 
   Forrest makes his way onto the stage, shakes hands with Dick Cavett. 
Dick Cavett : Mr. Gump, have a seat. 
   Forrest sits down between JOHN LENNON and Dick Cavett. 
Dick Cavett : Forrest Gump, John Lennon. 
John Lennon : Welcome home. 
Dick Cavett : You had quite a trip. Can you, uh, tell us, uh, what was China like? 
John Lennon lights a cigarette. 
Forrest : Well, in the land of China, people hardly got nothing at all. 
John Lennon : No possessions? 
Forrest : And in China, they never go to church.
John Lennon : No religion, too? 
Dick Cavett : Oh. Hard to imagine. 
John Lennon : Well, it's easy if you try, Dick. 
   Forrest looks oddly at John Lennon.
Forrest : (voice-over) Some years later, that nice young man from England was on his way home to see his little boy and was signing some autographs. For no particular reason at all, somebody shot him. 

* * *
For no particular reason?!

Lennon and Chapman

   Here is a summary of an essay by Daniel Stashower, published in the American Scholar (#52, 1983). 
   According to Stashower, Chapman was carrying a copy of The Catcher in the Rye with him at the time of the murder. Also, at his trial Chapman read the famous passage from chapter 22 about Holden wanting to be the catcher in the rye, in an attempt to justify the murder.
   Now, how could such an amazingly human book (my opinion) trigger such an outrageous murder? Here's the upshot of Stashower's "On First Looking into Chapman's Holden: Speculations on a Murder".
   Chapman probably identified himself heavily with Holden Caulfield. CR is very much concerned with the preservation of innocence and saving kids from becoming adult "phonies". Chapman may have seen Lennon as an innocent who was himself about to be corrupted, just like D.B. who began to "prostitute himself" in Hollywood by writing cheap movie scripts: commercial success at the expense of artistic integrity. Probably Chapman admired Lennon's withdrawal from public life in the post-Beatle years. In 1980, however, he resurfaced in a way that Chapman might have found listing dangerously towards commercialism: after a Salinger-like isolation (!), he released a rather mediocre album (Double Fantasy), granted interviews, appeared in public, etc, thus being in danger of falling off the cliff. Chapman's distressing, twisted solution may have been to play Lennon's catcher in the rye: he shot him to achieve the permanent state of innocence which Allie also has in the novel - because he is dead.

* * * 

April 12, 2000: Here's some additional information I got by email today (thanks, Lorrie!):

Along with your explanation why Chapman shot Lennon, i have also heard that Chapman admired Lennon for singing about peace and no possessions, but once Chapman learned that Lennon and Ono owned a home in the Bahamas, some boats and some land in upstate New York, Chapman saw Lennon as a hypocrite and not living up to his songs.... something along those lines. i heard this on some show on A&E, i think, don't remember. but that was what i have heard; to Chapman, Lennon might have looked like a "phony" and pretending to be living a peaceful life, but actually living a life of a star, with money and possessions.


   At you can find information about a book which is, however, out of print:
   Let Me Take You Down : Inside the Mind of Mark David Chapman, the Man  Who Killed John Lennon by Jack Jones. Paperback Rep edition (April 1994).
   A journalist who interviewed Chapman, his family, and friends, offers a chilling, tragic, and frightening portrait of the enigmatic young man who murdered John Lennon in December 1980 and answers many lingering questions about Chapman's motives and the killing itself.

   I also recommend the following website which deals exclusively and extensively with this topic:

    David Pryke's

   On April 25, 2002, Will Hochman wrote the following comment in the Bananafish Mailing List which I found so convincing and well-phrased that I persuaded him to let me publish it here. Thanks so much, Will!


   It's just wrong to connect a murderous, insane person with a great artist or great artwork. Sure, there was a lot of press about how one person interpreted a novel and let it drive him to murder or whatever, but the thing that bothers me is that too many of us want to think about how one particular novel may be a catalyst for a murder when the truth is that I wouldn't trust Chapman to read an aspirin label well, much less a book. This drive to connect Catcher to murder is just a sad, small, literary footnote. It is not, as, Holden would say, 'a very big deal.'

   Last night I was the keynote speaker at an awards ceremony for prize winning middle school and high school writers and their parents. When I asked the audience of approximately 200 people how many had read Catcher, I watched at least 75% of the people raise their hands and I can still see many of the young folks shoot their hands up high and fast with a sense of pride and fondness that should make us really think about what Catcher can mean to most people. I may be making more out of this quick image than is right, but my interpretation of that moment is strong and deep. I can still see a few young writers arch their backs and reach their arms and hands in the air with a grasping confidence that said, yes, I know and love this book...yes, I am proud that I read this book...yes, I know Holden as a gentle soul who can show us how to love people and he's even able to help us understand our awkward, adolescent selves a little better than we could without him.

   The hands in the air that I saw didn't have guns in them. There wasn't murder in their hearts, and the only insanity or confusion they may have suffered was in applauding me at the end of my remarks. I just dislike it very much when Catcher is connected with murdering, and I hope this email changes the strand to thinking about how Catcher affects real readers, will

Will Hochman

Associate Professor of English

Southern Connecticut State University

501 Crescent St, New Haven, CT 06515

203 392 5024

   Aug 21, 2003: Here's some interesting info given by Jack Jones which I found on the internet. He was asked by various people about various aspects of Chapman who at the time was about to be paroled (or not).

Journalist Jack Jones discusses John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman

   "Mark's spiritual change has followed a very long progression. He evolved from a Beatle worshipper and young drug addict at age 14 into an overnight Christian while he was taking LSD, which he believed the Beatles had advocated. After his conversion to Christ, John Lennon made the unfortunate remark that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus and sang the song, "Imagine There's No Heaven." This deeply offended Chapman's Christian identity and subconsciously I'm certain he began plotting John Lennon's death at that time, a full decade before he murdered the rock legend."

   "At the age of 25, Chapman was probably an emotional 15 year-old. There is a phenomenon in the literature of fictional personalities. Some people come to believe that they are another fictional personage. Mark, when he turned away from Christianity, believed that the Catcher in the Rye was his bible. His decision to go from Honolulu to New York City, to hang around in Central Park, to hire a prostitute, to get a gun, was a twisted re-enactment of Holden Caulfield's coming of age in New York City. In many ways, he retraced Holden Caulfield's steps before killing the man that he had made himself believe was the ultimate "phony". He believed in some way that by killing Lennon he could stop the rock star from leading astray another generation of innocent youth."

* * *

The West as a Mythical Land

   Holden repeatedly talks of going West, especially in chapter 25 (ironically, he does go West, but to the California resthome). He wants to build himself a cabin, pretending to be a deaf-mute, then marry this beautiful girl, etc. 
   This strongly reflects a certain aspect of the American Dream which is also dealt with by Thoreau in his essay on "Walking": the West as a mythical land in which the wilderness stands for everything positive, particularly freedom.
   Some extracts from this essay follow here.


   from: Henry David Thoreau, "Walking", Atlantic Monthly (June 1862)
   Eastward I go only by force; but westward I go free. Thither no business leads me. It is hard for me to believe that I shall find fair landscapes or sufficient wildness and freedom behind the eastern horizon. I am not excited by the prospect of a walk thither; but I believe that the forest which I see in the western horizon stretches uninterruptedly toward the setting sun, and there are no towns nor cities in it of enough consequence to disturb me. Let me live where I will, on this side is the city, on that the wilderness, and ever I am leaving the city more and more, and with- drawing into the wilderness. I should not lay so much stress on this fact, if I did not believe that something like this is the prevailing tendency of my countrymen. I must walk toward Oregon, and not toward Europe. And that way the nation is moving, and I may say that mankind progress from east to west....

   We go eastward to realize history and study the works of art and literature, retracing the steps of the race; we go westward as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure. The Atlantic is a Lethean stream, in our passage over which we have had an oppor- tunity to forget the Old World and its institutions. If we do not succeed this time, there is perhaps one more chance for the race left before it arrives on the banks of the Styx; and that is in the Lethe of the Pacific, which is three times as wide. ..

   Every sunset which I witness inspires me with the desire to go to a West as distant and as fair as that into which the sun goes down...

   The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World. Every tree sends its fibres forth in search of the Wild. The cities import it at any price. Men plow and sail for it. From the forest and wilderness come the tonics and barks which brace mankind. Our ancestors were savages. The story of Romulus and Remus being suckled by a wolf is not a meaningless fable. The founders of every state which has risen to eminence have drawn their nourishment and vigor from a similar wild source. It was because the children of the Empire were not sucklmd by the wolf that they were conquered and displaced by the children of the northern forests who were...

   So I would say, -- How near to good is what is wild! Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him. One who pressed forward incessantly and never rested from his labors, who grew fast and made infinite demands on life, would always find himself in a new country or wilderness, and surrounded by the raw material of life. He would be climbing over the prostrate stems of primitive forest-trees....

* * *


A Photo Album of Holden Caulfield's Odyssey

   Jan 5, 2000: I am happy to provide a very special link here to a project run by Suzanne Morine, author of the well-known Page Index for the Catcher . Suzanne has been to NYC recently (actually, a week or two before Christmas, just like Holden) and has taken lots of photos there. These photos provide the basis for her

Catcher in the Rye New York City Photo Album/Tour

   The album is done now (June 2000).  Nice reading, too - not to mention all the photos of places Holden went to during his odyssey...

* * *



   Recently I got an email from someone (thanks, Betsy!) who sent me the lyrics of a song which, in her opinion, tells a story similar to Holden's.  It's "Why Go" by Pearl Jam

   I don't know the song itself (yet), but it looks like Pearl Jam is an alternative rock band, and the music is pretty heavy and fast. In any case, it seems to me that the lyrics are very bleak, which provides a strong contrast to the ending of CR, esp. the carrousel scene in chapter 25...


She scratches a letter into a wall made of stone
Maybe someday another child won't feel as alone as she does
It's been two years, and counting, since they put her in this place
She's been diagnosed by some stupid fuck, and mommy agrees,
Whoa...yeah...hey yeah yeah...
Why go home... (3x)

She seems to be stronger, but what they want her to be is weak
She could play pretend, she could join the game, boy
She could be another clone...ooh...whoa...ah yeah...

Why go home? (4x)
What you taught me...put me here...don't come visit...mother...
Sting me...

Why go home? (4x)
What you taught me...put me here...don't come visit...mother, mother,
Why go home? (7x)

* * *

Stephen Chbosky:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    Looks like a novel has been published which is somewhat similar to CR: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, according to 300 plus reviews (!) at amazon, is either a rip-off of CR or a beautiful modern novel in its own right. 
    One critic of the book says that "Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst, the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers..."
   (Thanks for the information, Jenny!)

   Here's the beginning of the novel:

   August 25, 1991

   Dear friend,

   I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn't try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don't try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don't want you to do that. I will call people by different names or generic names because I don't want you to find me. I didn't enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.

   I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn't try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.

   I think you of all people would understand that because I think you of all people are alive and appreciate what that means. At least I hope you do because other people look to you for strength and friendship and it's that simple. At least that's what I've heard.

   So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.

   I try to think of my family as a reason for me being this way, especially after my friend Michael stopped going to school one day last spring and we heard Mr. Vaughn's voice on the loudspeaker.

   "Boys and girls, I regret to inform you that one of our students has passed on. We will hold a memorial service for Michael Dobson during assembly this Friday."

   I don't know how news travels around school and why it is very often right. Maybe it was in the lunchroom. It's hard to remember. But Dave with the awkward glasses told us that Michael killed himself. His mom played bridge with one of Michael's neighbors and they heard the gunshot.

* * *


CR and Cannibalizing:

Origins of the Novel

   In an interesting essay at ClassicNotes it is pointed out that CR "is the culmination of themes that appeared throughout a number of Salinger's short stories, however, some of which form the basis of individual chapters in The Catcher in the Rye."

   That means in effect that Salinger, like Raymond Chandler, decided to use some earlier short stories and incorporate them in the novel. Chandler called his custom of rescuing earlier work "cannibalizing" - a somewhat strange but fitting metaphor.

   The short stories Salinger made use of are:

  • "This Sandwich has no Mayonnaise"
  • "I'm Crazy"
  • "An Ocean Full of Bowling Balls"
  • "The Last and Best of the Peter Pans"
  • "Slight Rebellion Off Madison"
   If you are interested in more details, go to ClassicNotes where you can find the essay called "About the Catcher in the Rye" dealing with Origins of CR .
* * *


Salinger's Catcher and Gardner's Grendel

   In July 2000 I had an exchange of emails with Tom Murphy, a teacher at an Illinois High School. (He says if you want to contact him "to continue the conversation or just yell at me for my stupid interpretations :-)" you can email him: Tom Murphy )
   Tom points out that there are a number of interesting similarities concerning CR and Grendel, written by John Gardner in 1971. Below you will find the vital part of our email exchange.
   PS.   If you know Grendel, you might also want to visit Tom's new Index to Gardner's Grendel .

   TOM MURPHY:   "The notion that Grendel and Holden have something in common just came to me... I don't know of - or at least don't remember - seeing the idea anywhere.

   If you haven't read John Gardner's book, I'd encourage you to. In the original tale of Beowulf, Grendel is just the monster - the Evil Thing against which the Hero must test himself to prove himself Heroic. By re-telling that story from the monster's viewpoint, Gardner invites us into a world that we expect to be utterly alien but which turns out to be hauntingly familiar.

   Holden's mention of Grendel on p. 110 carries a very faint whiff of approval or attraction. He says "Well, most of the time we were on the Anglo-Saxons. Beowulf, and old Grendel and Lord Randall My Son, and all those things." For Holden its "old" Grendel. Adolescent boys are notoriously attracted to the dark side, curious about the power of destruction. They may ultimately want to identify with the hero, but there seems to be a deeper soul-link with the monster.

   Both Holden and Grendel are sharply alienated characters, estranged from self, family, others, the world...while they are in the process of trying to understand those very things. There seems something particularly adolescent in Grendel's curiosity about the world of men and his anger at being excluded. So he becomes The Destroyer, The Hrothgar-Wrecker. Similarly, there is something at least potentially monstrous in Holden's self-absorption and the temptation to nihilistic generalizing about the phoniness of the world.

   But in both characters there is some underlying appreciation of Value that has not been allowed to develop. It's more explicit with Holden. There are a number of things that he positively desires. He knows he wants to be The Catcher (though he comes to see that it's an impossible dream); he cleary loves Phoebe, Allie and maybe D.B.; he seeks connection with Jane Gallagher. Grendel had sought out positive connection with humans and was rejected. Yet there are moments in his career of destruction when he has the opportunity to kill certain characters (Hrothgar, The Shaper, the queen) but he does not. He seems to have a faint understanding of the limits of his own nihilism.

   Both Holden and Grendel seek out mentors (Horwitz and Antolini/The Shaper and The Dragon); both are helped and hindered by what they learn from them."

   BERND WAHLBRINCK:   "This does sound interesting ... However, I do not share your view that Holden is nihilistic - in fact, by trying to be the catcher, wiping out those "fuck you's", etc etc he shows how desperately he is trying to keep up certain values..."

   TOM MURPHY:   "On Holden’s nihilism: I probably overstated this a bit. Holden certainly has a range of values (authenticity as opposed to phoniness, concern for others, particularly children) that he tries to practice and wishes that others would also subscribe to. You could probably argue that he is actually some kind of saint. His nihilism - it’s not the right term, but I don’t know what else to call it at the moment - is the posture of a teenager who gets a bit lost in the midst of Life’s complexities.

   Sometimes in adolescence we tend to think in absolute categories, but when Life doesn’t present these in nice neat packages we leap to the extreme statement: "People are all phony" or "Nobody ever listens to anybody". It is a tendency to throw it all up for grabs, to throw it all out. Why can I hear Johnny Rotten roaring "I WANNA DES-TROY" at this moment? What is this adolescent (mostly male?) interest in the power of violent action? It often takes the form of an impulse to destroy something or someone in an attempt to "make a statement". (I can’t help but think of the violence at Columbine High School and elsewhere in this context.)

   There are moments (the fight with Stradlater comes to mind) when it seems that Holden actually wishes he had that kind of power. At that moment he really could kill Stradlater. In fact, though, Holden is probably no more of a nihilist than Gardner’s Grendel is. But they are both Lost Boys. There is hope for Holden by the book’s end - he has found some sense in the midst of all "this madman stuff". For Grendel - as for many in this broken world who can’t find their way through - there is only more darkness."

* * *


Why (NOT) Read Biographies?

   3.11.2000  I used to be very interested in biographical information concerning Salinger. In fact, Ian Hamilton's In Search of J.D. Salinger, first published in 1988, offers remarkable details about him, especially regarding parallels between the author and his protagonist Holden Caulfield. Thus this kind of extrinsic approach can easily expand your view of the novel itself and contribute to a better understanding of various aspects.

   However, since the publication of Margaret Salinger's Dream Catcher in September 2000 I have begun to change my mind. According to, she writes in the introduction: "I grew up in a world both terrible and beautiful, and grossly out of balance." She continues: "My father, a writer of fiction, is a dreamer who barely can tie his own shoelaces in the real world, let alone warn his daughter she might stumble and fall. In real life, when he chooses to make himself available, he can be funny, intensely loving, and the person you most want to be with." However, she adds: "To get in the way of his work, to interrupt the holy quest, is to commit sacrilege."

   So far, so good. But after reading about other details on the Bananafish Mailing List - e.g. that Salinger used to drink his own urine etc - I more and more got the feeling that it might not be such a brilliant idea to go and buy the book in the first place. Here are 2 reasons:
   1. What makes us think that we have the right to learn about very intimate aspects of a person, especially if we know for sure that this person does not want us to know about these things?
   2. I have a hunch that after reading such a book, chances are the negative or strange views you get of the author will somehow rub off on his protagonist Holden Caulfield. I mean, I have the feeling that while reading CR you just cannot help thinking of those weird things at the same time, which will not exactly enhance the joy of reading...
   What do you think?!


   4.11.2000    Otto Sell sends me an email reminding me of the message we should have learned from the Wizard of Oz
"Don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain."
   Right! And thanks, Otto!
* * *


July 16, 2001: A Letter to Holden

   Here's a letter to Holden, written by Will Hochman, Assistant Professor of English & Composition, Co-Coordinator Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent St, New Haven, CT 06515203 392 5024.
   It was originally published on the Bananafish mailing list a couple of days earlier. Thanks so much to Will for the permission to publish his letter here.

(website: )

(email: )

 Dear Holden,

   Everyone is making a very big deal about your 50th anniversary.  You came to us as a sixteen year old boy in l951 and you have remained a perfect pain in the ass.  You just made the “great” social critic George Will whine about your childish effects on boomers. Several years ago you made Harold Bloom, the self-proclaimed king of criticism edit a book of essays totally about you because you are such a character.  And you’ve made millions of readers see themselves in so many new ways that it’s no wonder that young readers found literature’s first door being courteously held open by you.  To stop and say thanks, even if your author makes that something less than it could be, seems like something you would appreciate.

   Everyone knows your author wants little part of any thanks offered, and I am trying to respect that…but you, Holden, I at least know well enough to believe you might like to hear a little bit about how helpful you’ve been. Before wincing at people taking you too seriously, don’t worry.  I’ve been working with Chris Kubica to edit a book of Letters to Salinger (due in December from the University of Wisconsin Press), though this  collection doesn’t really go out to Mr. Salinger.  Most of the contributors (ranging from writers like W.P. Kinsella, Tom Robbins  and Melanie Rae Thon to teachers and kids like you) are really talking about how literature has made them a bit more of who they are…and they are simply happy to send an intelligent and interesting smile your way. 

   Me too, Holden.  Want a laugh?  My dog’s name is Holden Caulfield in honor of you.  He’s an old Springer Spaniel and whenever folks stop to pet him, they ask me how old my “puppy” is…sort of like you, eh, Holden?   Want another laugh?  I got an NYU Ph.D. writing about readers responding to you but now I prefer to focus on “Bananafish,” an email discussion list for Salinger readers.  But computers seem out of your time, even if this group of readers really does love you quite a bit. You started it Holden, don’t blame me.  I just hung on to the carousel and I’m still reaching for the literary ring. I don't need it to be gold...I just care that it's made with a bit of you

   In the fifty years you’ve been around, your author has not given you the family life you deserved.  But let’s not talk about him now.  Besides, you may not need as much from your parents now since you are so much older and always knew more than most the importance of a good brother or sister.  Hey Holden, do you know how many girls and boys are your siblings now?  Generations of millions of readers relate to you…they welcome you, understand you…and often grow better because of you.  Spirit brother or character, your work is good and is still going strong. 

   But let’s face it Holden—growing up is hard to do and now, growing old sucks.  So here’s the deal.  You gave us some light in the dark space of adolescence and now I’m wondering if you can do the same for being old.  Surely you’ve had time to meditate on just what it means to be “Old Holden”?  Ok, ok,…I’m just kidding.  I wasn’t going to fool around like that when I started this letter, but you have to know that you made me do it.  Let’s leave it at that Holden—fifty years or the next time I read your classic pages, you will always bring out the kid in me, and that’s enough to make it through any age

   With all my love and not too much squalor, Will

* * *


"Where do the ducks go?" - At Last, External Evidence!

   A central aspect which has puzzled people both inside and outside the novel for 50 years is Holden's question where the ducks go when the lagoon in Central Park freezes over.

   The first cab driver Holden asks in chapter 9 thinks Holden is trying to kid him. Then, in chapter 12, Holden has this famous and very funny conversation with Horwitz, the second cabbie. Horwitz hasn't got a clue where the ducks go and gets incredibly excited about the question, also comparing the ducks' situation to that of the fish in the lagoon. In fact, he gets so sore that he drives off "like a bat out of hell". (Rumour has it that he is so unnerved that he actually  drives into a lamppost.)

   Alas, Holden himself never finds out where the ducks go (or does he, years later?! ;-)  . However, exactly 50 years after the publication of CR there is, at last, the answer to this mind-boggling question. It was published in the New York Times on July 22, 2001 by Thomas Beller. In his article, "Holden's New York", we learn (I paraphrase):

   The park commissioner said that every year his office is contacted by people inquiring about a mystery posed by Holden: What happens to the ducks when the lagoon freezes over?

   According to the commissioner, the lagoon does not really freeze anymore. "Usually the ducks go to the middle of the lake, which is the least likely to freeze," he said. "If that freezes over they have been seen in the Hudson and East Rivers. In fact ducks travel much less than they used to, because it is really much easier for them than it was in 1951. 

   So what? 

   Well, the point is: Horwitz was (basically) right: Mother Nature takes care of the fish - and the ducks, too. Holden cares about the ducks because he cares about  (from his point of view) helpless, innocent creatures who he feels should be protected from the brutal world. That goes for the ducks (can you imagine Ackley or Stradlater asking themselves where the ducks go? - Me neither!), it goes for the nuns, for Jane Gallagher, and of course for his sister Phoebe. Therefore, just like Holden eventually realizes in the carrousel scene that he has to allow Phoebe to make the experience of possibly falling off the horse or the carrousel (of life) - see my #18 Internal Aspects - he should not worry too much about the ducks...

   PS. A friend pointed out to me that this reminded him strongly of the Bible (Mathew 6/26):  "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them." 
   Interesting parallel...

* * *


Names & Psychology in CR

   On Nov 6, 2001, I received the following information from Holly Prescott, a psychology student from Wigan, England. Thanks so much, Holly!

   There seems to be a strong theme of psychology (of course) and psychoanalysis running throughout the narrative. Wilhelm Stekel is mentioned (in chapter 24 by Mr Antolini), and Carl Luce's father himself is a psychologist. It so happens there is a Luce Irigaray who was born in 1930;  her work explores psychoanalysis and male dominance in Western Society.

   You may be interested to know that Goldfarb, surname of Raymond who drank scotch with Holden in Whooton's chapel (chapter 13) is also the name of a psychologist who studied children in institutions to see whether this affected their intellectual development. His research was carried out in 1943 and he concluded that children's intellectual and emotional development could be stunted by lack of opportunity to form an attachment to a care giver in the early years of life. Holden got sent to boarding school. Coincidence, huh?! 

   Hayes (as in Sally) is also the surname of a psychologist. In fact, Hayes & Hayes were a couple; the initials of the pair  are a KJ Hayes and a C Hayes, who studied language development (using primates!), their most famous studies carried out in 1952.

    A  man named Nathan .M. Horwitz (the surname of the talkative taxi driver) appears in the American journal of psychoanalysis. Nathan M Horwitz is still alive and kicking, his article being called "Why do humans stay in hateful relationships". However there is also Leonard Horwitz, who worked (dunno if he still works) in Psychoanalysis, the only article or study I can find of his dates from 1974.

    Funny huh?

* * *


Paul Simon:
"A Poem on the Underground Wall"

   On Feb 17, 2002, I received an interesting mail from Joe Z., Long Island:

   I am an English teacher on Long Island ... and  I think that I have something for you to add to your site.  The song "A Poem On The Underground Wall" by Paul Simon sounds exactly like the guy that Holden would want to defend the world against--especially since the "A single worded poem consisting Of four letters" is probably the exact profanity that Holden seems to be crusading against.  Further, I think that the fact that the graffiti artist in this case is described as using a "crayon"  goes to show the age of the culprit who would be close enough in age to the person who probably wrote the profanity that Holden first sees.  Hope you agree, Joe Z.

   Yessir, so here it is...

A Poem On The Underground Wall (1:57)  

Paul Simon, 1966

The last train is nearly due
The underground is closing soon
And in the dark deserted station
Restless in anticipation
A man waits in the shadows
His restless eyes leap and scratch
At all that they can touch or catch
And hidden deep within his pocket
Safe within its silent socket
He holds a colored crayon

Now from the tunnel's stony womb
The carriage rides to meet the groom
And open wide and welcome doors
But he hesitates, and then withdraws
Deeper in the shadows
And the train is gone suddenly
On wheels clicking silently
Like a gently tapping litany
And he holds his crayon rosary
Tighter in his hand

Now from his pocket quick he flashes
The crayon on the wall he slashes
Deep upon the advertising
A single worded poem consisting
Of four letters

And his heart is laughing, screaming, pounding
The poem across the tracks rebounding
Shadowed by the exit light
His legs take their ascending flight
To seek the breast of darkness and be suckled by the night

   NOTE: Here is some interesting background information from Wikipedia on this song which, ironically, also reminds one of Holden Caulfield:

"A Poem on the Underground Wall" is a song written by Paul Simon, first released as a recording on the Simon and Garfunkel album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The Simon and Garfunkel boxed set Old Friends includes a live version of the song, prefaced by an anecdote from Garfunkel about its origin: he explains that a photo shoot for the cover of the album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was ruined because the subway wall they had intended to use as a backdrop had obscenities written on it.

* * *

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