Having been expelled from Fencey Prep actually, from Pencey Prep - the first clue that there is something wrong with this summary (but maybe this guy was just in a hurry...)


Spencer tries to sell Holden an old Navajo blanket Rubbish! At the beginning of chapter 2 Holden remembers an incident in which Spencer showed them a beat-up Navajo blanket which the teacher liked a lot


Ossenburger, an "old fart" well, he was, in a sense, but actually it is an allusion to this funny incident described at the beginning of chapter 3 in which old Marsalla "damn near blew the roof off"...


Ackley, a sensitive boy whom Holden admires. on the contrary


An argument flares up between the two boys about Jane Gallagher, Mr Ossenburger's stepdaughter Argument? Yes, but there is absolutely no connexion between Ossenburger and Jane


On the train to New York he has a conversation with a woman who turns out to be  Mrs Yester... Her name is actually Mrs Morrow
(To)Morrow - Yester(day)
(Boy, that was a tricky one...)


... Mrs Yester, the mother of one of the few classmates he likes On the contrary: Holden describes him in a very negative way. The best characterization is the following simile which I always chuckle at:
"Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a goddam toilet seat."


he dances with three girls from Seattle and has a heated discussion with one of them about the Statue of Liberty The discussion bit is nonsense, but at the same time it is a nice allusion to yet another one of Holden's beautiful similes: he thinks one of them is a bad dancer and says she was like "dragging the Statue of Liberty around the floor" (chapter 10)


eventually Jane annoyed him by constantly putting all his kings in the back row.  actually, Jane is famous for her habit of not taking her kings out of the back row...


Later he has an argument with a prostitute and her pimp about the impending dollar crisis. Maurice and Sunny claim Holden owes them five bucks


he meets two nuns. After an enchanting conversation he inexplicably tries to steal their straw baskets.  total nonsense (the nuns do have a straw basket, though)


Then he has a date with Sally Hayes, a rather plump girl ... Sally is definitely not plump ...


... who considers herself an ice-skating champion. ... and she doesn't exactly consider herself an ice-skating champion either (see chapter 17)


Holden tries to persuade her to drive with him to Vermont in the near future and live in a cabin camp in the woods; reluctantly she agrees. He does try to persuade her at first, but she thinks the idea is totally absurd


Holden eventually admits that he liked playing baseball with his brother Allie in a rye field near a duck pond in the vicinity of Central Park South.  Holden would like to be the catcher in the rye in Robert Burns' poem (chapter 22)


Holden then visits a former teacher of his, Mr Antolini. However, he has to leave rather suddenly because the spaghetti served by Mrs Antolini have a devastating effect on his stomach. forget the spaghetti: Holden does visit Antolini, but he leaves because Antolini pats him on the head while he is sleeping on the couch


In the morning, suffering from diarrhea and vainly attempting to get a lift from the Holland Tunnel to the West he does have diarrhoea, but he only thinks of going down to the Holland Tunnel to hitchhike to the West


Unfortunately, the principal catches him writing obscene words on the school walls and threatens to call the police.  Could anyone possibly have read the novel and not realize this is ridiculous?
Holden tries to rub off some "Fuck you"s


After a while he finally does meet Phoebe; she drags a big suitcase with her, intending to go West with him. When, however, she inadvertently opens it, thus spilling all her belongings on the ground, they decide to go to the carrousel in Central Park instead.  The suitcase bit is okay, but she does not open it, and Holden checks it in the checkroom of the museum


Phoebe goes for a ride on it, although she claims she is too small.  she claims she is too big


Holden just watches her falling off now and then ... Actually, he is AFRAID that she might fall off


... until the smoke from his cigarette gets in his eyes ... Rubbish! The song they play on the carrousel is "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"


... and he decides to take a Greyhound bus to California in order to visit his brother D.B. in Hollywood ... he has to go to the California resthome


... and possibly collaborate with him on writing movie scripts. That's about the last thing Holden would want to do - he hates the movies


Back to

the summary
(CATCHER: internal aspects)


Praise for the "Summary"
"...there is inconsistency"
(Now that's an understatement if ever I saw one)

     Below you'll find some comments people wrote to me who realized there was something decidedly odd about my summary. (I have left out their names, of course.)
Often there is a lot of "righteous anger" in them - which is a good thing, because these people are genuinely annoyed at such a disastrous summary of such a superb novel.  However, what with so many utterly ridiculous blunders, I still don't really get it how anybody could possibly take this seriously - unless they didn't read the novel in the first place... 
     PS.  Naturally, I send these people an email back and explain the whole thing...

  •    "horribly inaccurate"
  •    "you really have done a terrible job summarizing the book"
  •     (from my guestbook)  "I was puzzled by the inaccurate summary at the beginning and scrolled immediately to the end thinking, "this must be some idiot kid's homework." I was delighted beyond belief when I read that the summary was deliberately screwy."
  •    "Are you trying to screw up people  who think they can read the summary and get away with it?!"
  •    "God, how could you transform in such a ridiculous way the summary of The catcher in the rye ? Are you sure that you did read that novel?"
  •    "After I bumped into #19 at the bottom, I found it humorous.  It makes you wonder how many people actually read the summary instead of the book.  I think you should keep it, because if people actually care about the book, like me, then they will notice that something is wrong and they will want to see why.  It's really pretty funny, so I say keep it on there."
  •    "a perfect mix of actual events in the book with made up stuff"
  •    "did you even read the book???? your summary was way off!!!!!!"
  •    "it seems pretty much clear to me that there is inconsistency."
  •    (from my guestbook) "Your sneaky summary is brilliant. Too many students are too lazy to read CR, and lots of other terrific books. Besides, if they aren't too lazy to scroll down your page, they'll find out about your little trick anyway."
  •    "This summary is the worst I have ever read!"
  •    "Love your summary. 'It kills me.'"
  •    Your summary of the novel was pure gold! I wonder how many people actually fall for it...

  •    Get it right, buddy!
  •    The point of this e-mail is that I'm curious. Why did you write a summary that was so outrageously incorrect?
       I wrote back:  People who "used" this summary instead of reading this terrific book itself - in spite of my introductory warning that "it was not supposed to replace a thorough reading of the novel itself" - well...
       Reply:   That's the reason that I thought of when I saw in your "About Me" section that you were an English teacher.
       I wrote back:  Yeah, we teachers always try to teach mankind
       Reply:  Well somebody has to. On behalf of mankind, thanks!


  •    I loved your "phony" summary. Cheers for that!
  •    I read your summary and I was about to blast you for not even reading the book - the part about his going off to CA was especially ridiculous, I am glad I scrolled down and found the piece explaining how you deliberately messed up the summary.
  •    I liked the idea of putting the wrong summary of the book. It was hilarious!
  •    (from my guestbook) When I started looking at the site, I skipped over the summary and when I got to the bottom, I thought the joke was hilarious! I was able to point out the summary's inaccuracies, and had a great time doing it! That's a great idea to teach students not to copy work or cheat out of it. That would, of course, be phony!
  •    I'd like to say I loved your trick summary!  I have to admit that when I first read it, I thought you were a complete fool.  When I hit your explanation down further on the page, I could not stop laughing!
  •    Here's a nice example of someone changing his mind somewhat rigorously:
       Just a thought... Did u ever read the novel Catcher in the Rye? Your novel summary there, is completely half-assed backwards. Excuse my language, but seriously what are u talking about?
       next day:
       Hey Bernie, just me again e-mailing u back to apologize for my inappropriate reaction earlier today. Although I had originally read your summary and thought it to be out to lunch, I continued to find that it was really a fake and thoroughly enjoyed reading all the responses in your guestbook. After finally reviewing your website, I think it is very informative, educational and one of the best sites out there. Excellent job!
  •    That is about the funniest thing I have ever seen! I especially like the parts about the attempted selling of a blanket and the spagetti. The idea of not really summarizing the book is great and very smart. Heh, can you imagine the look on the teacher's face of the kid who actually used that for a report??? Thanks for the laugh!
  • cont


© 1999-2004 by Bernd Wahlbrinck, Home of the Wadel, Germany. 

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