The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

4.3 1641
by J. D. Salinger

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Ever since it was first published in 1951, this novel has been the coming-of-age story against which all others are judged. Read and cherished by generations, the story of Holden Caulfield is truly one of America's literary treasures.  See more details below


Ever since it was first published in 1951, this novel has been the coming-of-age story against which all others are judged. Read and cherished by generations, the story of Holden Caulfield is truly one of America's literary treasures.

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Little, Brown and Company
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5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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Chapter 1

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO HEAR about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They're quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They're nice and allóI'm not saying that—but they're also touchy as hell. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything. I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean that's all I told D.B. about, and he's my brother and all. He's in Hollywood. That isn't too far from this crumby place, and he comes over and visits me practically every week end. He's going to drive me home when I go home next month maybe. He just got a Jaguar. One of those lithe English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He's got a lot of dough, now. He didn't use to. He used to be just a regular writer, when he was home. He wrote this terrific book of short stories, The Secret Goldfish, in case you never heard of him. The best one in it was "The Secret Goldfish." It was about this little kid that wouldn't let anybody look at his goldfish because he'd bought it with his own money. It killed me. Now he's out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me.

Where I want to start telling is the day I left Pencey Prep. Pencey Prep is this school that's in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. You probably heard of it. You've probably seen the ads, anyway. They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some hot-shot guy on a horse jumping over a fence. Like as if all you ever did at Pencey was play polo all the time. I never even once saw a horse anywhere near the place. And underneath the guy on the horse's picture, it always says: "Since 1888 we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men." Strictly for the birds. They don't do any damn more molding at Pencey than they do at any other school. And I didn't know anybody there that was splendid and clear-thinking and all. Maybe two guys. If that many. And they probably came to Pencey that way.

Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall. The game with Saxon Hall was supposed to be a very big deal around Pencey. It was the last game of the year, and you were supposed to commit suicide or something if old Pencey didn't win. I remember around three o'clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on top of Thomsen Hill, right next to this crazy cannon that was in the Revolutionary War and all. You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teams bashing each other all over the place. You couldn't see the grandstand too hot, but you could hear them all yelling, deep and terrific on the Pencey side, because practically the whole school except me was there, and scrawny and faggy on the Saxon Hall side, because the visiting team hardly ever brought many people with them.

There were never many girls at all at the football games. Only seniors were allowed to bring girls with them. It was a terrible school, no matter how you looked at it. I like to be somewhere at least where you can see a few girls around once in a while, even if they're only scratching their arms or blowing their noses or even just giggling or something. Old Selma Thurmer—she was the headmaster's daughter—showed up at the games quite often, but she wasn't exactly the type that drove you mad with desire. She was a pretty nice girl, though. I sat next to her once in the bus from Agerstown and we sort of struck up a conversation. I liked her. She had a big nose and her nails were all bitten down and bleedy-looking and she had on those damn falsies that point all over the place, but you felt sort of sorry for her. What I liked about her, she didn't give you a lot of horse manure about what a great guy her father was. She probably knew what a phony slob he was.

The reason I was standing way up on Thomsen Hill, instead of down at the game, was because I'd just got back from New York with the fencing team. I was the goddam manager of the fencing team. Very big deal. We'd gone in to New York that morning for this fencing meet with McBurney School. Only, we didn't have the meet. I left all the foils and equipment and stuff on the goddam subway. It wasn't all my fault. I had to keep getting up to look at this map, so we'd know where to get off. So we got back to Pencey around two-thirty instead of around dinnertime. The whole team ostracized me the whole way back on the train. It was pretty funny, in a way.

The other reason I wasn't down at the game was because I was on my way to say good-by to old Spencer, my history teacher. He had the grippe, and I figured I probably wouldn't see him again till Christmas vacation started. He wrote me this note saying he wanted to see me before I went home. He knew I wasn't coming back to Pencey.

I forgot to tell you about that. They kicked me out. I wasn't supposed to come back after Christmas vacation, on account of I was flunking four subjects and not applying myself and all. They gave me frequent warning to start applying myself—especially around mid-terms, when my parents came up for a conference with old Thurmer—but I didn't do it. So I got the ax. They give guys the ax quite frequently at Pencey. It has a very good academic rating, Pencey. It really does.

Anyway, it was December and all, and it was cold as a witch's teat, especially on top of that stupid hill. I only had on my reversible and no gloves or anything. The week before that, somebody'd stolen my camel's-hair coat right out of my room, with my fur-lined gloves right in the pocket and all. Pencey was full of crooks. Quite a few guys came from these very wealthy families, but it was full of crooks anyway. The more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has—I'm not kidding. Anyway, I kept standing next to that crazy cannon, looking down at the game and freezing my ass off. Only, I wasn't watching the game too much. What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was lean7ing them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse.

I was lucky. All of a sudden I thought of something that helped make me know I was getting the hell out. I suddenly remembered this time, in around October, that I and Robert Tichener and Paul Campbell were chucking a football around, in front of the academic building. They were nice guys, especially Tichener. It was just before dinner and it was getting pretty dark out, but we kept chucking the ball around anyway. It kept getting darker and darker, and we could hardly see the ball any more, but we didn't want to stop doing what we were doing. Finally we had to. This teacher that taught biology, Mr. Zambesis stuck his head out of this window in the academic building and told us to go back to the dorm and get ready for dinner. If I get a chance to remember that kind of stuff, I can get a good-by when I need one—at least, most of the time I can. As soon as I got it, I turned around and started running down the other side of the hill, toward old Spencer's house. He didn't live on the campus. He lived on Anthony Wayne Avenue.

I ran all the way to the main gate, and then I waited a second till I got my breath. I have no wind, if you want to know the truth. I'm quite a heavy smoker, for one thing—that is, I used to be. They made me cut it out. Another thing, I grew six and a half inches last year. That's also how I practically got t.b. and came out here for all these goddam checkups and stuff. I'm pretty healthy, though.

Anyway, as soon as I got my breath back I ran across Route 204. It was icy as hell and I damn near fell down. I don't even know what I was running for—I guess I just felt like it. After I got across the road, I felt like I was sort of disappearing. It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road.

Boy, I rang that doorbell fast when I got to old Spencer's house. I was really frozen. My ears were hurting and I could hardly move my fingers at all. "C'mon, c'mon," I said right out loud, almost, "somebody open the door." Finally old Mrs. Spencer opened it. They didn't have a maid or anything, and they always opened the door themselves. They didn't have too much dough.

"Holden!" Mrs. Spencer said. "How lovely to see you! Come in, dear! Are you frozen to death?" I think she was glad to see me. She liked me. At least, I think she did.

Boy, did I get in that house fast. "How are you, Mrs. Spencer?" I said. "How's Mr. Spencer?"

"Let me take your coat, dear," she said. She didn't hear me ask her how Mr. Spencer was. She was sort of deaf.

She hung up my coat in the hall closet, and I sort of brushed my hair back with my hand. I wear a crew cut quite frequently and I never have to comb it much. "How'd you been, Mrs. Spencer?" I said again, only louder, so she'd hear me.

"I've been just fine, Holden." She closed the closet door. "How have you been?" The way she asked me, I knew right away old Spencer'd told her I'd been kicked out.

"Fine," I said. "How's Mr. Spencer? He over his grippe yet?"

"Over it! Holden, he's behaving like a perfect—I don't know what . . . He's in his room, dear. Go right in."

© 1999 by Eric Alterman "

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The Catcher In The Rye (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.3 out of 5 based on 4 ratings. 1641 reviews.
CC19 More than 1 year ago
J.D. Salinger's coming of age novel The Catcher in the Rye has delightfully captured the attention of readers for decades. Its popularity is primarily, but not exclusively, due to the realism behind the plot, characters, and themes. Although the story takes place during the late 1940s, teenagers everywhere can still relate to the sixteen year old protagonist, Holden Caulfield. The combination of his criticism, bitterness, and pessimism towards society was carefully crafted to create Holden as a unique narrator with many conflicting thoughts. In fact, Holden feels so torn between becoming an adult and staying a child that he essentially alienates himself from those who have conformed to one or the other. The distress and confusion of growing up is the underlying theme that follows Holden throughout the entire novel. From just the first chapter of the novel readers come to learn that Holden is not your typical adolescent boy. He does not hold back when criticizing his "phony" schoolmates, whose obsessions include girls, sex, smoking, and drinking. Although Holden feels compelled to engage in the latter two activities himself, he does not necessarily agree with it. He is merely trying to find a medium between childhood and adulthood. Feeling alone and isolated, Holden carries out the extreme by leaving his prep school to escape those around him already engrossed in maturing into adults. The story follows with a number of events that all contribute to Holden's intriguing journey to understanding himself; a journey many young people in the world today go on themselves. Because Salinger's themes are so universal yet realistic, The Catcher in the Rye is found to be satisfying and relatable to all types of readers. Holden and his struggles bring each reader back to a time in their own lives when they were going through a drastic change. For that reason The Catcher in the Rye can easily be considered timeless. The thought of keeping this novel off libraries' shelves because of its vulgar language, sexual references, and so-called promotion of drug use is ludicrous. Do not let the accusations and believers of censorship keep you from becoming immersed into the world of Holden Caulfield.
JRews More than 1 year ago
I read this book this year for school, I was in a bad mood and I ended up reading half of it in one night. Its a book that's so easy to understand, its so human. There's no action or any thrill much at all besides the everyday life of Holden Caulfield. I recommend this book to anyone who's human. Its enjoyable and relatable. Also, I love the Holden.
KLJoy More than 1 year ago
The novel "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger was written in 1951. However, it is still being read in schools today. Unlike many timeless novels, "The Catcher in the Rye" not only provides a strong message that still resonates today, it also is a fascinating, creative piece of writing. "The Catcher in the Rye" takes place in the 1940s and tells the story of Holden Caulfield, a troubled teenager haunted by the death of his little brother. The story follows Holden as he runs away from private school while hoping to find to find happiness somewhere in the streets of New York. Holden is both the protagonist and antagonist of his story. He is stubborn, rude, and judgmental without a cause. On the other hand, Holden loves his little sister and wants to protect children from the world around them. He is broken and in search of something he can't seem to find. He is searching for love. When his brother died, Holden lost someone who loved him. Even though Holden couldn't see the love depart, he feels it slipping away. Holden's parents are too caught up in their own pain to recognize that Holden is struggling. Holden is forced to bear all of his burdens by himself. It is this struggle that makes the novel timeless. In essence we are all Holden, a little lost and a little broken, but always pushing forward, looking for a glimmer of happiness in the distance. Everyone knows the feeling of being in a place where everyone else belongs. Anyone can relate to Holden's struggle to find himself in a place where people look down on those who differ from the status quo. "The Catcher in the Rye" makes the experience both poignant and humorous. Holden is a teenage boy whose thoughts are often ludicrous and socially incorrect. J.D. Salinger knew that there was more to writing a novel then just getting the message across. He accomplishes it with comedy and intrigue. It is hard not to laugh when Holden is lying to a women about his age while calling those around him phonies. "The Catcher in the Rye" is a classic because it would remain a talented piece of writing even without a moral "point". The novel merges timeless and engaging with an effortlessness that many authors can't achieve.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I only read Catcher in the Rye for my english class, but it turned out to be one of my favorite books! I hadn't really read too many classics before and had heard a lot of negative feedback about them, but this was a great surprise! It was funny and packed with wit, and full of self discovery. There was a TON of swearing, but somehow it really fit with the characters. I loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this many years ago when I was a teenager, and then again just recently. It once again reminded me of all of the freedom a young man has compared to an adult and the book brought me back to when I was young. This is a must-read for all teens since it will give them a sort of guide as to what to do and not to do, but it will also entertain them if they are a cosciencious reader.
leyendo_aqui More than 1 year ago
I knew that "The Catcher In the Rye" was an older book because my dad had talked about how it was such a classic, even to my grandpaw. I decided to buy it and I finished it the day it was purchased. I usually don't read that quickly but it was very good. Not a lot actually happens within the time it was narrated by Holden, but the best part of the book is how the author is descriptive about things that deserve to be described and leaves out the less important things, which many other authors fail to do, making their books drag on. One of the few books I'll remember for a long, long time.
aiala More than 1 year ago
absolutely amazing. Catcher in the Rye is a wonderful novel by J.D. Salinger. I love how Holden, the main character, narrates the happenings of several of days in his teenage life. So although this book is only a few days time, it did not lack in content at all. I liked this book because when Holden talks, it feels like he is speaking only to you. J.D. Salinger is an amazing writer, and made me laugh throughout the book. He gave Holden a very unique and interesting personality. Holden goes through seemingly pointless events, though he hopes somebody will care. Holden feels hopeless and lonesome, in a world that he thinks is heartless and filled with fake people. It really makes you think about the world as you see it. Holden's beliefs and judgments alone were very amusing. After you read the book, you start thinking about situations in your life and wonder what Holden would do in your place, or at least I did. Throughout this book, Holden gives his opinions and observations on everything he encounters. I didn't ever want to stop reading. There are not many books i'd ever read again, but this book is one that i could read over and over again. There are so many things that didn't make total sense to me, but im sure that if i read it again, it will become more clear. LoVED IT! read IT. So, I loved every bit. I don't think i will ever forget it, great book from the start to finish. read it! if you start reading and it doesn't seem to be your kind of book, keep reading! you may surprise yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! I'm so happy to finally have this on my nook! 5 stars!!
AmnaZ 3 months ago
In my opinion, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, was a depressive depiction of a teenager, Holden. It was too dark and negative for my liking. My AP Language Arts teacher told my class that this story was based on a three-day period of Holden's life and that if a book was written on three days of our life it wouldn't necessarily be positive. One of Salinger's messages in this book was to show the people of the 1950s that life for everyone is not perfect, which is relatable to every generation. Also, this is one of the reasons why we read it in school today. Overall, this book was written well, but I could not relate to Holden's character.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"The Catcher in the Rye" has rigid reaction; you either hate it or you love it. I personally enjoyed it to full extent. Holden Caulfield is a young boy who criticizes those around him and doesn't want to grow up, yet is contradicting himself loads throughout the book. The author writes with real emotion, and doesn't hold back on language. All in all, Holden is really just a kid not ready to take the responsibility of growing up. One of my favorite books.
A_m_R More than 1 year ago
The Catcher in the Rye is not a waste of time, it will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time while reading it. I am one of those people who hate reading to and I could not put this book down. The author is grerat and his originality is amazing. just read the book it will not be a waste of time or a disapointment.
AZaki 3 months ago
Anonymous 3 months ago
The timeless classic "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, revolves around the struggle of youth in Holden Caulfield. His 16-year old self is kicked out of the elite Pencey Prep, an all boys' school that has "been molding boys into splendid young men" since 1888. Holden finds that he can't stay at the phony Pencey a moment longer, and being a teenager he is in no rush to encounter his parents with the news of his yet another expulsion, he rashly heads off to New York. There he spends several days meeting new characters, each who impact him differently, and finding himself. In this coming of age story, Salinger brilliantly captures the teen spirit white his use of profanity, colloquialisms, and constant repetition of phrases. He executes so well the confused and moody typical teenager, which Holden embodies throughout the plot. This book ultimately forces you to face some uncomfortable truths about your past or present teenage self.
LSal 3 months ago
Holden is a lost teenage male who isn't sure what to do with his life. He hates school, which is partially why he has been kicked out of so many, and doesn't apply himself to anything. Holden goes through his life doing whatever he wants to do, not caring about anything or worrying about the consequences. Once out of school, Holden makes a trip to New York City. Here, Holden fights his way thorough depression and loneliness while also tackling on the different challenges that this unique city has to provide. Holden's distinct personality and viewpoint of the world makes this book truly like no other. The vivid language thought the novel makes readers feel as if they are inside Holden's strange world. This one of a kind novel provides a countless number of thoughts to the reader, making them question just about everything. This book will keep you up late into the night and is a must read for anyone looking for an adventure.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I highly recommend reading this book, as it is the only novel I have ever read that perfectly captures the complexity of the adolescent mind. Catcher in The Rye features Holden’s life, following expulsion from Pencey Prep, a prestigious school in Pennsylvania. Holden is reluctant to return home, as Pencey is one of many schools that he has been expelled from. Subsequently, he takes a train into New York, and spends a few days trying to make sense of what he wants to do next in his life. Just like any other teenager, Holden experiences pain, rejection, and loneliness, making him a relatable character to many adolescents. Over a period of a few days, Holden encounters strange situations as he ventures in New York City, ranging from prostitutes, bars, eccentric people, and peculiar hotels. Holden looks to fulfill himself with worldly desires (sex, liquor, bars, social life); however, it comes to no avail. Holden is 16 years old, confused, lonely, and often feels depressed about his life. Undoubtedly, Salinger brilliantly uses Holden’s stream of consciousness to provide insight about different aspects of his life, and motives for certain actions. He always “feels sorry” for people, and is very critical of the actions of others. Although his insight may seem hypocritical and condescending, Holden’s stream of consciousness is brutally honest. Holden doesn’t sugar-coat anything, often using words like “damn” and “hell” to make his points, which may appear blunt to readers. Even though he seems arrogant while discussing the shortcomings of other people, Holden expresses a heart for protecting the innocence of young children. Throughout the novel, Holden establishes himself as the “Catcher in the rye”, in which his job is to protect little kids from accidents. Some readers agree that Holden is an endearing character, as his situations and feelings are relatable. On the other hand, others criticize Holden for being a hypocrite, and scorning his cynical and negative thoughts. Either way, Holden captivates readers in disgust or adoration. Overall, Catcher in The Rye is appealing, and is bound to keep readers on their toes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my Fav Books!
BarbiG More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book.  This book is very true to real life in so many aspects and really taps into a teenage boy's brain.  The reader goes on an unexpected journey with Holden, wondering what he will do next.  I learned to love Holden and wish I actually knew him.  I also found myself relating to him in many different ways.  I think this book will be enjoyed more by a teenager than a young adult.  I encourage you to read this book for fun and not depict the themes/motifs/symbols/etc.  (I understand if you have to read it for school.)  It is hard for me to believe this book was written with specific themes in mind, and I do not think it was meant to be torn apart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book sucked. The whole thing was based on Holden's reactions to things that happened to him, in other words nothing happened! He goes through the whole book talking about all his problems and he fails to solve any of them. This book was long, boring,and horribly written. Never read it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only d I ever had in school was writing a report on this book. Glad I read other reviews about hating this book before I tried to read it  again L
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A timeless classic that will speak to people of all times and ages. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book for my Nook. The only thing is, when I look under Nook books, it is no longer there. The one I purchased is with the front cover just as pictured above. Anyway, I LOVED the story. I have been wanting to read it for years and finally did. It was so witty. I chuckled throughout the entire story, almost. I loved Holden! He was so representative of kids back in that day. Now, I do not know if the Nook edition is different from the paperback/original edition but there were TONS of errors, mostly typographical and spelling, I'd say. I cannot believe how many. It was as though no one ever proofed the book. But still, I LOVED the story and Holden!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't care what anyone says, this is the best book of all time. I read it for the first time the summer before my freshman year of high school and it legitimately changed my life. I've read it 8 times since then during the past 7 years. It's a timeless classic written by one of the best authors in the world. With characters this intriguing, who needs a blockbuster plot? Read it. I have hope that someone out there will appreciate this book as much as I did/do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Catcher in the Rye is one of my top 10 favorite books. Salinger illustrates the complexities and struggles of life that everyone at one point or another must go through. Holden, the main character of Salinger's novel, is a brilliant but confused adolescent who is trying to make sense of his life, which is something that any human can relate to. I recommend this classic novel only to advanced readers with highly developed literary analysis skills, because younger and therefore more immature readers do not seem to fully grasp the symbols and themes of the novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perhaps one of the best thing about this classic novel is that virtually anyone who reads this can relate to it somehow. This novel, that was published in 1951, reads like it was published last year. The themes included in these few days in the life of Holden Caulfield are very real, some of them being a bit taboo for today's society (not to mention the society of 1951). The Catcher in the Rye follows main character, Holden Caulfield, for a few days after failing out of his fourth high school. The sixteen year old is very rebellious, but has a kind nature. After a fight with his roommate, Holden opts to duck out of Pencey Prep a few days early. He decides to stay in a hotel until he thinks his parents have cooled down after receiving news he was being kicked out of another school. His antics over the next few days include a prostitute, a night club, an old girlfriend, and a visit to his baby sister at her elementary school. This is a coming of age story; after one has read it, it's obvious why this work by Salinger is considered a classic novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel earns its place of fame with an emotional story of events that force the narrator, Holden Caulfield, into adulthood. All the emotions he feels are projected perfectly in a writing style closely matching a casual monologue. You can feel his pain as losing his childhood values to the cruel hand of fate takes its toll on his thoughts. Although the book has a compelling plot, many of the story's ideas and events are obscured by either a lack of details or because they are never entirely revealed, leaving an ambiguous conclusion. Despite this, J.D. Salinger has created a fantastic story with a truly inspirational plot built up with emotional writing.