Lit - Catcher in the Rye - Study Guide

If you like study guides, here's a good one for Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. I believe I used this as an optional assignment for students who were having trouble with the text.




Answer all of the following questions  in your notebook. Remember, detailed answers are important.


Chapter 1:


1. Who is the narrator? About what does he promise to tell the reader?

2. Who is D.B. ? Why does the narrator call him a "prostitute"?

3. What is Pencey Prep?

4. Why is the narrator leaving Pencey? How does he feel about leaving?


Chapter 2:


1. Who is Mr. Spencer? Why do~s Holden visit him?

2. How does Holden describe himself physically?

3. Why does Mr. Spencer read the essay about the Egyptians? How does Holden react to hearing the paper read? Why does he feel this way?

4. What are Whooten and Elkton Hills? Why did Holden leave them? Based on the preceding answer, what conclusions can you draw about Holden's personality?

his family economic background?


Chapter 3:


1. What did Holden buy in New York after losing the foils?

2. Name three authors whose work Holden has read. Are you familiar with any of these authors? What conclusion can you draw about Holden by the books he likes to read?


Chapter 4:


1. What favor does Stradlater ask of the narrator?

2. Who is Stradlater's date?

3. How does Holden happen to know Jane? How does he seem to feel about Stradlater's dating her?


Chapter 5:


1. Where does Holden go on Saturday night? What does he end up doing?

2. What topic does Holden choose for the composition he is writing for Stradlater?

3. Who was Allie? What sort of person was he? How did Holden feel about him?

4. In what year did Allie die? How much time has passed? How old is Holden now?

How old would Allie have been?



Chapter 6:


1. Why is Holden worrying when Stradlater returns?

2. Why doesn't Stradlatler like the composition? What happens?


Chapter 7:


1. Why does Holden go to Ackley's room?

2. Why does Holden call Ackley a "prince...gentleman...and a scholar"?


Chapter 8:


1. Who sits next to Holden on the train?

2. What lies does Holden tell the mother about her son? Why?

3. How does Holden explain the fact that he is not in school?


Chapter 9:


1. List the people Holden thinks of calling from Penn Station.

2. What does Holden ask the taxi driver about the ducks?

3. What sorts of "perverts" does Holden see at the hotel?

4. What "sex rule" has Holden made for himself? Why does he break it?

5. Who is "Miss Faith Cavendish"? Why doesn't Holden arrange to meet her-?


Chapter 10:


1. What does Holden like about his sister Phoebe?

2. What does Holden order to drink at the Lavendar Room? Why does he end up drinking Coke instead? . .

3. What does Holden think of the three women he meets at the Lavendar Room?


Chapter 11:


1. Why do you think Holden can't stop thinking about Jane Gallagher?

2. How is Jane different from most of the girls Holden knows?


Chapter 12:


1. Who is Horwitz? What do he and Holden talk about?

2. Who is Ernie? Why does Holden consider him "phony"? Why, then, do you think he sends Ernie a message inviting him over for a drink?

3. Who is Lillian Simmons? What does Holden think of her? Why does he feel this way?

4. On p. 87, Holden says:"People are always ruining things for you." Why? Who has ruined what for him?




Chapter 13:


1. What would Holden have done ifhe found out who stole his gloves? Why does he consider himself "yellow"? Do you think he is a coward?

2. How is Holden feeling when he gets back to the hotel?

3. What is the "big mess" Holden gets into when he steps into the elevator?


Chapter 14:


1. Why does Holden "talk to Allie" after Sunny leaves? Why does Holden "tell" Allie "go home and get your bike and meet me in front of Bobby Fallon's house"?

2. What are Holden's religious beliefs? .

3. Who is Maurice and why does he knock on Holden's door? Do you think Holden does the best thing---under the circumstances?

4. After Maurice leaves, how does Holden feels? Why doesn't he jump out a window--as he considers doing?


Chapter 15:


1. Who is Sally Hayes? Does Holden like her? What does he think of her?

2. What is your impression of Holden's father?

3. Why does Holden start thinking about Dick Slagle?

4. What is Holden's opinion of the nuns in the train station? Are you surprised that he doesn't find them "phony"?


Chapter 16:


1. Why does Holden walk down Broadway looking for a record store?

2. What is the little boy who is walking with his parents singing? Does that make Holden feel better or worse?

3. How does Holden feel about movies and shows? Why doesn't he like actors?

4. Why did Holden like the museum so much as a kid? How does Holden seem to feel about the change?


Chapter 17:


1. Who was Harris Macklin and why didn't Holden like him? Who else does he seem to label as a "bore"?

2. Why do you think Holden tells Sally he loves her in the cab on the way to the show?

~__~.3. Why does Holden consider the Ando..v.:er acql1aintance.-Sallv-meets-in-tM-lobb~ "phony"? Would you?

4. Why do Sally and Holden go skating? Do they have a good time?


---.. ~-


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Chapter 18:


1. What does Holden think of the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall? Do you think you would enjoy the show?

2. Does Holden like the movie? Can you identify which movie it is?

3. How does Holden feel about the war? Why do you suppose this is on his mind?


Chapter 19:


1. How does Holden know Carl Luce? What sorts oftalks has he had with Carl in the past?

2. What does Holden dislike about Carl? Why does he make the effort to see him, then?

3. What does Carl think Holden needs? Do you think Carl is right?


Chapter 20:


1. What does Holden pretend while sitting at the bar?

2. Why is Holden "blind" when he calls Sally? What is her reaction when she answers the phone?

3. What is the "terrible thing" that happens when Holden leaves the bar?

4. Why did Holden miss Allie's funeral?


Chapter 21:


1. What does Holden do when he gets into the apartment and find Phoebe asleep?

2. How can you tell that Phoebe is thrilled to see Holden? What bits of news does she shower on him?

3. Why does Phoebe put the pillow over her head?


Chapter 22:


1. When Phoebe asks Holden why he flunked again, what he respond? Do you think he is being honest? Do you think Holden would be happier at you school?

2. Who was James Castle? Why do you think Holden thinks of him when Phoebe asks him to name one thing he likes?

3. What two things does Holden say he likes? Why isn't Phoebe satisfied with his answer?

4. When Phoebe asks Holden what he's like to be, what is his explanation for why he would NOT like to be a lawyer? What does this show about his relationship with his father?




Chapter 23:


1. Who is Mr. Antolini? Why does Holden like him?

2. How do you learn that both Holden and Phoebe are good dancers?

3. What does Phoebe give Holden? Why do you think he cries?

4. Where does Holden decide to go? Why is he hiding from his parents until Wednesday?


Chapter 24:


1. What sort of talk does Mr. Antolini have with Holden about his flunking out? How is that talk similar to/different from the lecture Mr. Spencer gave him?

2. Who is William Stekel and why does Mr. Antolini quote him? Do you think Holden would be better offifhe took Mr. Antolini's advice to heart?

3. Why is Holden upset when he wakes up? Should he be? What do you think about "that kind of stuffs happened to me about twenty times since I was a kid"?


Chapter 25:


1. Where does Holden go after he leaves Mr. Antolini's?

2. Why does Holden feel worse after reading the article in the magazine about hormones? Do you worry more about your health when you are depressed?

3. Why does Holden laugh as he watches the men unloading the Christmas tree?

How does he feel?

4. Why doesn't Holden eat the doughnuts he has ordered? Have you ever experienced anything like that when you were blue?

5. What is the "spooky thing" that happens to Holden as he is walking down Fifth Avenue?

6. What plan does Holden concot for escaping from everything?

7. Why does Holden go to Phoebe's school? Why does the graffiti make him so angry?

8. How does Holden get along with the two little boys in the museum? Toward what other children in the story has he shown a similar attitude?

9. Why does Holden yell at Phoebe?

10.Why does Holden change his mind about going away?

11. Where do Holden and Phoebe go after their argument?

12. How does Holden feel as he watches Phoebe on the carrousel? Why?


Chapter 26:


1. What happens after Holden gets home? Why ~o you- ~uppose _Hold~p._doesn'!l~!! -- -about that in more detail?-----2. When is Holden going back to school? Do you think he will "apply himself'?

3. Where does Holden seem to be as he tells the story?

4. Who does 6J3 bring along on his visit with Holden? What does D.E. talk with Holden about on that visit?


5. Holden says of "all that has happened": "I'm sorry I told so many people about it." Who has he told? Why do you suppose he is sorry?




Answer the following questions with your group. Be sure to use examples from the book, as well as from your everyday experiences. Be prepared to discuss your answers.


Chapter 21. Is life a game, and if it is, can we ever win the game? What does Holden think?

(8) 2. What would you have done in Spencer's place? (12) Would you have read the paper back to the student, and would you have given an F to a student that you really liked?

3. Do you know any phonies? (14) Describe the attributes that make someone a phony, and those which make someone real.

4. On page 15, who do you feel more sympathy for, Holden or Spencer? Give reasons for the one you choose and don't choose.

5. Does yelling "Good Luck!" at someone bother you? (16) Why might it bother people?


Chapter 31. How do readers react when they see that Holden considers himself such a liar?

(16) !fa mend told you this, what would you say to them?

2. Holden uses a lot of exaggeration throughout the novel. Give some examples of exaggeration in Chapter 3. (16-17) 3. Discuss a book that you've read (or a movie you've seen) in which you would have liked to talk to the author. Which author would Holden like to speak to? (18) 4. List some [5 or more] words that would describe Ackley, and give examples as to why he fits those words. (19-26) 5. What do we learn about Stradlater? (24-26) Give at least 3 things.


Chapter 41. How is Stradlater's sloppiness different from Ackley's? (27) 2. What does Holden tell us about Stradlater's physical appearance? (27) 3. What would it take to get you to do an assignment for someone else? (28) 4. Do you like to imitate things you don't like? [other people; movies; songs;

parents' nagging; etc] 5. What do we learn about Holden and Jane Gallagher? (31-33) 6. Why is Holden worried at the end of the chapter? /


Chapter 51. What kind of meal was their special meal at Pencey? (35) What's your favorite/ least favorite school lunch?

2. Why did Holden ask Ackley to come along to the town? Was it the right choice to make? (36-37) 3. There is a lot of symbolism in the snowball scene. (36) Given what you know about Holden by the end of Chapter 5, what does the scene signifY?

4. What is significant about the baseball glove that Holden has? (38-39) 5. Look at Holden's description of Allie. (38) How is this description different from any others so far? Why is this description so different?




II. Cr,tical and Creative TIJ1.nking C. Phoebe's entry should reveal her love of Holden, and her fears about how their father will react.

D. The conversation should probably include Mr. Antolini's explanation as to why Holden left so precipitously E. The essay should address the question, but also reflect Holden's tendency to "digress" and his confusion about what he wants from school.


Unit Exam, Level II Identification: 1-h; 2-k; 3-i; 4-e; 5-j; 6-b; 7-f; 8-c; 9-1; 10-g; 11-a; 12-d; 13-m


Multiple Choice: 1-1; 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 5-3; 6-3; 7-1; 8-4; 9-1; 10-4; 11-3; 12-4; 13-1;

14-4; 15-4; 16-1; 17-4; 18-2; 19-3; 20-1; 21-3; 22-3; 23-1; 24-2; 25-2


I. Analysis A. Students who choose (1) may point out that Holden talks about his inability to stop lying once he starts; he also keeps the truth from others-like his parents. Students who choose (2) may point out that it gives Holden pleasure to make the mother feel good about her son.

B. (1) Holden might well identify with the compassionate, alienated prep school student, now grown, who narrates A Separate Peace. (2) Likewise, Holden might like reading about an honest young man struggling to grow up and to deal with his parents' divorce (A Solitary Blue).

II. ri i I and rea ive Thinkin C. The flashback should connect with present action (for example, Holden's view of someone's shoes might remind him of your shoes) and should reveal Holden's opinion of the student-in language that Holden might use.

D. The essay should clearly present a thesis (that addresses Holden's resistance to change, his unwillingness to grow up, and his fascination with death as a way to "freeze" childhood innocence and integrity) and shoyld support that thesis with plenty of detail from the story.

E. The essay should answer the question, but should also reflect Holden's tendency to "digress." Allie might well be mentioned.


Study Gu~ (Students' answers may not match exactly. Some questions are open-ended.) Chapter 1 1. Holden Caulfield; "the madman stuff that happened to me around Christmas" 2. Holden's older brother, now writing screenplays, which Holden considers a dishonorable profession.

3. Holden's school, a fashionable prep school 4. He is flunking four subjects; he doesn't seem to care too much.


@ 1993 Anne Troy. Ph. D. and Phyllis Green. Ph. D. . NOVEL UNITS. P.O. Box 1461 . Palatine. IL 60078 43




Chapter 2 1. Holden's history teacher; to say good-bye, since Mr. Spencer is sick 2. six foot two, gray hairs 3. Spencer is probably trying to wake up Holden; Holden is embarrassed and thinks it's a dirty trick.

4. other schools Holden has flunked out of; He claims they were full of phones.

Chapter 3 1. a red hunting hat 2. Thomas Hardy, Somerset Maugham, Ring Lardner, Isak Dinesen 3. a pimply outcast from next door; not really, but Holden tolerates him 4. Holden's roommate-the well-dressed, handsome jock type.

Chapter 4 1. to write a composition for him 2. Jane Gallagher 3. He "practically lived next door to her the summer before last." They played checkers, talked a lot. Holden is jealous and protective. .

Chapter 5 1. to Agerstown with Mal and Ackley; They eat, play pinballs, go back to the dorm.

2. Allie's mitt,which has poems written all over it to keep him from being bored in the outfield.

3. Holden's little brother, who died of leukemia, was smart, well-liked, and easy-going. Holden was crazy about him.

4. 1946/ 4 years/ 17 at the time of writing, 16 at the time of the book's story-within-a-story/ If Allie had lived, he would be 14 or 15 now.

Chapter 6 1. He fears Stradlater took advantage of Jane.

2. He thinks it doesn't fulfill the assignment. Holden tears it up; they fight; Stradlater wins.

Chapter 7 1. He doesn't want to be in the room with Stradlater.

2. He's being sarcastic-he really thinks Ackley is rude, stupid, and not much of a friend.

3. There seems to be little reason to stay-and no place he can comfortably sleep. He plans to go to a hotel in NYC for a few days.

Chapter 8 1. the mother of a schoolmate Holden detests, Ernest Morrow 2. that he's sensitive, popular, and humble; to make his mother feel good 3. He says he has to have an operation.

Chapter 9 1. D.S., Phoebe, Jane's mother, Sally Hayes, Carl Luce 2. where they go when the lagoon freezes 3. a cross-dresser; a couple with a "water fetish" 4. Holden says he won't "horse around" with a girl he doesn't like; he doesn't know why, but he always breaks his rules.

5. a former burlesque stripper; He was hoping to get her to meet him by saying this was his only available night, but she was unwilling.

Chapter 10 1. She's pretty, smart, affectionate, and writes books.

2. He ordered a scotch and soda, but with no J.D. he had to settle for Coke.

3. He finds them homely, pathetic, and depressing.

Chapter 11 1. Answers vary.

2. She wasn't a phony.


@ 1993 Anne Troy, Ph. D. and Phyllis Green, Ph. D.. NOVEL UNITS. P.O. Box 1461 . Palatine, IL 60078 AA




Chapter 12 1. the obnoxious taxi driver; the ducks and fish in the winter 2. a Black jazz pianist and owner of a "joint" in the village; Holden finds him phony because of his fake "humility;" still, Holden would like to be seen as one of Ernie's friends.

3. a friend of D.8.'s; She's a phony.

4. In order to get away from Lillian, Holden has to leave Ernie's.

Chapter 13 1. Not much-possibly he'd search the suspected thief's room and take back the gloves. He'd rather not fight.

2. depressed 3. He agrees to pay a prostitute $5 for "a throw;" He changes his mind once he sees her.

Chapter 14 1. He "talks" to Allie when he's depressed; speaking as if Allie is alive is comforting, plus Holden needs to relieve some of his guilt over not always taking Allie with him.

2. He's "sort of an atheist:' 3. Maurice, the elevator-operator/pimp, claims Holden owes another $5.

4. Holden felt like jumping out the window, committing suicide.

Chapter 15 1. Sally is a girl Holden has dated before who comes from a good family and knows a lot about literature and art. Holden "used to think she was intelligent:' Answers vary. (He is a lawyer, quite wealthy.) The nuns Holden spoke with at the train station had inexpensive luggage just like Dick Slagle.

Holden likes the nuns because they seem genuine and unaffected. They are kind to him and think he's a nice boy.

Chapter 16 1. He wants to find a recording of "Little Shirley Beans" for his sister, Phoebe.

2. "If a body catch a body coming through the rye." Holden likes the little boy and feels happier.

3. He finds live shows less appalling than movies, but thinks all actors are phony and egotistical.

4. Holden liked the way nothing at the museum changed-you could look forward to seeing something and it would be there. He doesn't like change much.

Chapter 17 1. A boy Holden roomed with at,Elkton Hills, Harris was a bore. the Lunts, Sally 2. At that moment, he feels like he does.She answers that she loves him too but doesn't really mean it.

3. He called the Lunts "angels:' 4. Sally wants to; they have a fight and Holden leaves her there.

Chapter 18 1. He doesn't find it religious or pretty, but thinks Jesus might have liked the drummer.

2. Holden found the movie "putrid." 3. Army life doesn't appeal to him- at all, but he wouldn't mind dying.

Chapter 19 1. from the Whooton Schoo V intellectual ones 2. He sometimes acted "very flitty"-but Holden probably hopes for some advice.

3. a psychoanalyst Chapter 20 1. He pretends he's been shot in the stomach.

2. He is extremely drunk. She tells him to go home and go to sleep.

3. Phoebe's record breaks.

4. He was in the hospital because when Allie died he had smashed all the windows in the garage with his bare fists.


2. 3. 4.


@ 1993 Anne Troy, Ph. D. and Phyllis Green, Ph. D.. NOVEL UNITS. P.O. Sox 1461 . Palatine, IL 60078






Chapter 21 1. He reads her notebook.

2. She hugs and kisses him; she tells him about her part in the play, about a movie she saw, that their father has to fly to California, and that 0.8. may be coming for Christmas.

3. It was her reaction to realizing that Holden had been kicked out of Pencey.

Chapter 22 1. He says Pencey is full of mean guys and phonies.

2. . a boy at Elldon Hills who jumped out the window rather than take back something he had said (and meant) about another boy 3. Allie and talking with Phoebe, who says Allie doesn't count because he's dead.

4. Holden thinks lawyers are hot shots who play golf and bridge and drink martinis, and this doesn't appeal to him. This is how he sees his father.

5. "a catcher in the rye" who saves children from falling off a cliff that is next to a field of rye where they are playing; He would have liked to save Allie, and he may be thinking that he himself is heading for a fall and wishes someone would catch him.

Chapter 23 1. A former English teacher, Holden likes him because he's young and you can kid around with him.

2. They dance to the music on the radio.

3. her Christmas money 4. to Mr. Antolini's; They won't find out about his expulsion until then.

Chapter 24 1. Antolini tells Holden he's afraid he's given up before he ever started looking. Antolini is more philosophical and analytical than Spencer, but the message is similar.

2. a psychoanalyst who said, "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." 3. Antolini is patting his head.

Chapter 2S 1. Grand Central Station 2. He thinks he looks like he shouldn't, according to the article.

3; The guys are swearing about the Christmas tree, totally counter to the feelings that are supposed to prevail at Christmas.

4. He felt too sick.

5. He begins to feel disoriented.

6. He decides he'll go out West, perhaps even pretend to be a deaf mute.

7. He wants to leave a note for Phoebe to meet him. He hates to see innocence corrupted.

8. He likes them, as he does Phoebe, the skater, and the little boy who was singing.

9. She wants to run away with him.

10. Partly to mak~ up with Phoebe, but also to start facing reality.

11. the zoo 12. The simplicity of Phoebe's happiness makes him happy. He identifies, misses his youth.

Chapter 26 1. He "got sick" and was sent out to California for psychological help. Perhaps these are memories too painful to relive.

in the fall in a psychiatric institution of some kind his English girtfriend; He asks him how he feels about all that's happened.

Answers will vary.