Tag Archives: The Catcher in the Rye

Taking a Walk Through J. D. Salinger’s New York by James Barron

Seton Entrance - Edward Keating/The New York Times
Seton Entrance - Edward Keating/The New York Times

MLA Citation:

Barron, James. “Taking a Walk Through J. D. Salinger’s New York.” The New York Times. The New York Times Co., 28 Jan. 2010. Web. 14 Dec. 2010. <http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/28/taking-a-walk-through-jd-salingers-new-york/>.

First Paragraph:

Hey, listen. You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over?

There it is: the Holden Caulfield question. Sara Cedar Miller gets it all the time.

Continue reading Taking a Walk Through J. D. Salinger’s New York by James Barron

“Holden in the Museum” by John Seelye

MLA Citation:

Seelye, John. “Holden in the Museum.” Ed. Jack Salzman. New Essays on The Catcher in the Rye. New York: Cambridge UP, 2001. 23-33. Print.

First Paragraph:

Seelye’s essay starts with a quote from the novel:  “I was the only one left in the tomb then.  I sort of liked it, in a way.  It was so nice and peaceful.  Then, all of a sudden, you’d never guess what I saw on the wall.”

“I don’t think I was alone, as a college undergraduate in the early fifties, in regarding Holden Caulfield as a royal pain, an affront to my generation, which was prone to assume supine positions in the name of material well-being.  Most of my classmates were conformists eager to become Organization Men inventing Hidden Persuaders, and the grey flannel suit (with that touch of conformist flair, the tattersall vest) was our uniform of choice.  ours was the cause that James Dean’s Rebel was without, and James’s shadow figure, John Dean, was one of us.  Our greatest fear was not of losing our individuality to corporate America but of losing our lives in Korea.  Like Dan Quayle, we did our patriotic best by joining reverse units, hoping that the winds of war would pass by, leaving our private lives unruffled.  About the time that Jack Kerouac was making his westward journey that would become thinly fictionalized as On the Road, I spent two summers driving from Connecticut to California to take part in a naval reserve training program that would result in an ensign’s commission just in time for the end of hostilities in Korea.  It was not me that Salinger’s Catcher caught.”

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New Essays on Catcher in the Rye Edited by Jack Salzman

MLA Citation:

Salzman, Jack. New Essays on The Catcher in the Rye. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991. Print.

First Paragraph:

“In 1959, eight years after the publication of The Catcher in the Rye, Arthur Mizener began a Harper’s magazine essay about J. D. Salinger by noting that he was ‘probably the most avidly read author of any serious pretensions of his generation.’  There were good reasons why this should be the case, Mizener commented.  Whatever limitations the work might have had – either of technique or of subject matter – within these limitations it was ‘the most interesting fiction that has come along for some time.’  Although, as we will see, there was little critical agreement about what the limitations of The Catcher in the Rye may have been, there was little disagreement with Mizener’s contention that Salinger was the most avidly read ‘serious’ writer of his generation.  Soon after Nine Stories appeared in April 1953, it made the New York Times best-seller list.  By 1961 sales of Catcher were reported to have reached one and half million copies in the United States alone.” (from The Introduction)

Table of Contents:

Series Editor’s Preface

This book is part of The American Novel Series

Introduction by Jack Salzman

Articles

John Seelye:  Holden in the Museum
Michael Cowan:  Holden’s Museum Pieces:  Narrator and Nominal Audience in The Catcher in the Rye
Christopher Brookeman:  Pencey Preppy:  Cultural Codes in The Catcher in the Rye
Joyce Rowe:  Holden Caulfield and American Protest
Peter Shaw:  Love and Death in The Catcher in the Rye

Notes on Contributors

Selected Bibliography

Reader’s Guide – “A Slight Rebellion Off Madison”

Contributed by Tim Towslee. Thank you Tim!

Publication History:

  • c. 1941, sold to the New Yorker in November 1941 as “Am I Banging My Head Against the Wall?” (Greiner), publication delayed due to U.S. entry into WWII
  • p. 21 December 1946 in The New Yorker as “Slight Rebellion Off Madison”
  • collected in David Remmick’s Wonderful Town: New York Stories from the New Yorker (2000)

Character List:

Holden Caulfield: The central character. His middle name is Morrisey.

George Harrison: An acquaintance of Sally Hayes. He is a student at Andover.

Sally Hayes: A girl Holden likes and is meeting in the city for ice skating.

Carl Luce:: Carl is described as overweight and unattractive. He is a classmate of Holden’s at Pencey Prep.

Summary:

This story is the assumed basis for The Catcher in the Rye, Chapter 17. In it, Holden Caulfield goes ice skating with Sally Hayes. After some small talk with her, Holden reveals his thoughts about his perceived pointlessness of prep school. He tells her he’d like for them to move away, far away, from the city; but Sally dismisses this as a ridiculous notion. Later, Holden and Carl Luce appear at the Wadsworth bar, where they drink scotch and sodas. Holden calls Carl an “intellectual guy” and asks him what he would do if he hated school and wanted to “get the hell out of New York.” Later, when he is alone Holden drunkenly calls Sally twice on a payphone. Then, after chatting with the piano player, Holden waits for a bus on the corner of Madison Avenue with tears in his eyes.

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With Love and Squalor edited by Kip Kotzen and Thomas Beller

MLA Citation

Kotzen, Kip, and Thomas Beller. With Love and Squalor: 14 Writers Respond to the Work of J.d. Salinger. New York: Broadway Books, 2001. Print.

First Paragraph:

“There are a lot of things that most of us would rather not know about J. D. Salinger. What he eats or drinks. What he wears.  What kind of father he is. Or any other of the various sordid details that have surfaced about his personal life in books by Ian Hamilton, Margaret Salinger and Joyce Maynard. Personally, my interest was never in J. D. Salinger the myth. It was always in J. D. Salinger the writer. ”

from the Introduction, page 1

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Salinger and the Literary Geography of a Real and Fictional New York City

Written by Angelica Bega-Hart, November 2009.

According to Phillip Lapote there are ten themes [1] that occur “obsessively” in fiction written about or situated in New York City. (Lapote, xviii) Though Salinger does not appear at all in Lapote’s bulky anthology, several of those themes are manifest n Salinger’s writing.  As Ruth Prigozy notes,

The local references in Nine Stories clearly indicate a recognizable fictive world: New York City predominates, from the opening line in “A Prefect Day,” set in Miami but alluding to “ninety seven New York advertising men” (3). In “The Laughing Man, ” the precise geography of the city forms a substructure for the double layered story as does the east side of Manhattan for the dramatized encounters of “Just Before the War.” Whether the characters are on vacation, on a ship, in a foreign country, or in a Connecticut suburb of the city, the sensibility of Salinger’s world is firmly established by its references to the sophistication, polish, manners, and locales associated with the New York City of Salinger’s educated upper middle class. (qtd in Bloom, 93)

Certainly, Salinger’s familiarity with the city was an important part of his ability to portray it in a “precise” and stylized manner. And Salinger was as familiar with the city as anyone. Raised in New York, Salinger was born in 1919 to Sol Salinger and Marie (Miriam) Jillich at the Nursery and Child’s Hospital on West 61st Street. “Sonny” as he was nicknamed, went home to 103rd Street and Riverside Drive. As his father’s success increased the family moved to a house on West 82nd Street on the Upper West Side and then later to the fashionable and ritzy Upper East Side, to the building located at 1133 Park Avenue. (Alexander, 31-35) William Maxwell would later argue that Saliner’s childhood gave him a unique perspective on the city that would later dominate the settings for much of his fiction, saying:

JEROME DAVID SALINGER was born in New York City on January 1, 1919. So far as the present population is concerned, there is a cleavage between those who have come to the city as adults and those who were born and raised there, for a New York childhood is a special experience. For one thing, the landmarks have a very different connotation. As a boy Jerry Salinger played on the steps of public buildings that a non-native would recognize immediately and that he never knew the names of. He rode his bicycle in Central Park. He fell into the Lagoon. Those almost apotheosized department stores, Macy’s and Gimbel’s, still mean to him the toy department at Christmas. Park Avenue means taking a cab to Grand Central at the beginning of vacation. (Dead Caulfields [2])

Salinger’s time in New York lasted until his early teens, when he went away to prep school in Pennsylvania, but after a few brief years, he was back in the city of his birth attending college at New York University’s Washington Square College and later taking classes with Whit Burnett at Columbia University.  Perhaps more importantly, Salinger came back to New York at the conclusion of the war and spent time in Greenwich Village where he made connections with other aspiring writers. (Alexander, 114)

Despite Salinger’s New York roots and the tendency of his stories to focus on New Yorkers with overt references to important New York City landmarks, Salinger is not often anthologized as a New York writer. Most often included in anthologies about the Big Apple are earlier writers such as Washington Irving and Walt Whitman and from Salinger’s generation, John Cheever, John Updike, and the Beat poets. One anthology of New York writing that does include Salinger is David Remnick’s Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker. In it, Remnick includes stories that “reflect the city’s moods and crises over seventy-five years,” from writers who “are legion” and who have “helped create a powerful and complex portrait of New York.” Most importantly, Remnick says he aims for a “quality of endurance” (Remnick, xii) Remnick apparently sees such a quality in one of Salinger’s earliest short stories, “A Slight Rebellion Off Madison,” which illustrates a scene that would eventually be rewritten (from a different point of view) and incorporated into Salinger’s most famous work, The Catcher in Rye. It remains unclear if, as Paul Alexander suggests, Salinger may have prevented his work from being reproduced in anthologies [3] and whether this fabled decision of Salinger’s is the primary reason for his lack of inclusion in a number of New York anthologies. (Alexander, 24)

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The Hyphenated Ham Sandwich of Ernest Hemingway and J D Salinger: A Study in Literary Continuity by William Goldhurst

Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual, 1970
Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual, 1970

MLA Citation:

Goldhurst, William. “The Hyphenated Ham Sandwich of Ernest Hemingway and J. D. Salinger: A Study in Literary Continuity.” Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual 1970, pp. 136-150.

First Paragraph:

“In his influential book on Ernest Hemingway, Phillip Young contends that “there is little in Hemingway-and next to nothing  of ultimate importance-that has not its precedents” in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Young bases this claim on parallels that emerge from a comparison of Twain’s boy-hero Huck and Hemingway’s fictional heroes, but especially the prototype-hero Nick Adams as he appears in the story collection In Our Time. After a detailed and convincing presentation of similarities, Young concludes that Huck and Nick are nearly identical persons who are “very nearly twins.” Furthermore, says Young, “the adventures of the generic Nick Adams are the adventures of Huckleberry Finn in our time,’the main difference being only that “at the very point where Twain found his boy too complex, and let him go, Hemingway has exploited his condition, and raised him to complicated manhood.'” (136)

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A Question of Influence, T. S. Eliot and J. D. Salinger

Written by John Piersol, November 2009.

  • Unlike with writers such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway, there is no convincing biographical evidence that Salinger was directly influenced by Eliot’s work.  There are some overt references to Eliot, however, notably in “Franny” and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” but on the surface these amount to little more than brief allusions.
  • “I absolutely adore your letter especially the part about Eliot.  I think I’m beginning to look down on all poets except Sappho” (Franny and Zooey 4-5).
  • “‘Ah Sharon Lipschutz,” said the young man.  ‘How that name comes up.  Mixing memory with desire’” (Nine Stories 13).

April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

T. S. Eliot – “The Waste Land”

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J.D. Salinger by James Lundquist

MLA Citation:

Lundquist, James. J.D. Salinger. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1979. Print.

First Paragraph:

“This is 1979, and it has been twenty-eight years since Holden Caulfield dragged his deer-hunting cap and his prep-school heart through Manhattan.  But J.D. Salinger’s ideas on the true and the false in American culture, his religious solutions to the crises of alienation and isolation, and his overriding sentimentality may have had more impact on the American brainscape than anyone yet has taken into account.  Since the publication of a long story, ‘Hapworth 16, 1924,’ in The New Yorker in 1965, Salinger has maintained a silence that has turned him into the Howard Hughes of American Literature.  But Salinger’s lasting significance has no declined.  The startling thing for many of us to realize is that the confidential ravings of Holden Caulfield, the enigma of Seymour Glass’s suicide, and the pathetic pragmatism of the Jesus Prayer embraced by Franny Glass, remain part of our consciousness – and it is not just simply nostalgia for that time in the 1950s and early 1960s when Salinger’s characters provided just about the only voices that did not sound phony.  As a whole new generation of readers indicates the appeal of his work is enduring.   His influence remains, and we cannot get around it, perhaps cannot get over it.”

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Allie and Phoebe: Death and Love in J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye by David Burrows

MLA Citation:

Burrows, David J. “Allie and Phoebe: Death and Love in J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.”Private Dealings: Modern American Writers in Search of Integrity. Rockville, MD: New Perspectives, 1974. 106-14. Print.

First Paragraph:

“Literary passions were not easily formed among America’s youth in the 1950’s. But during those years many students in high schools and colleges discovered, through J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, that “literature” did not mean the, to them, dull poetry and fiction of their text books. After the novel’s appearance in 1951, its fame began to spread by word-of-mouth, until something of an underground “Catcher cult” existed throughout the country. The speech mannerisms of Holden Caulfield, the book’s protagonist and narrator, were carefully imitated, and a generation of young Americans perceived through Holden the extent to which the world was divided between the “phonies” and the “nice” people, the former comprising the vast majority of the population. Then, in the late 1950’s, young college and high school teachers, themselves having been deeply affected by the book six or eight years earlier, introduced it formally into the classroom, and thus within a decade of its publication it reached the stature of an American “classic”.”

Continue reading Allie and Phoebe: Death and Love in J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye by David Burrows