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Questions

The Catcher in the Rye Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
  1. How does Salinger tend to end chapters? What do these endings have in common? How do they work to set the tone of the novel?
  2. The Catcher in the Rye centers on a young man—can women relate to this novel, too? What about Holden is gender-specific, and what is common to all teenagers?
  3. In a related questions, what is up with the women in this book. Or, more accurately, why are there no women in this book except a prostitute and a fourth-grader?
  4. Does Holden seem to think that he's feeling new feelings? (Or does Salinger?) In other words—is he just expressing something that teenagers have always felt, or are these feelings of boredom, indifference, and anxiety particular to his time period?
  5. Let's talk about the ending to The Catcher in the Rye. Is it optimistic? Negative? Gloomy?
  6. How much can we trust Holden's descriptions of other people? Is Ackley really as pimply and disgusting as we're told he is? Is Phoebe really so smart and wonderful?
  7. Are there certain instances in the text where we can't tell whether seventeen-year-old Holden is talking about his feelings now or his feelings when he was sixteen?
  8. How important is sex to Holden? Is his messed up attitude toward sex a symptom of his problem, or is it more like a cause?
  9. If Holden is so obsessed with saving children's innocence, why doesn’t he worry more about his own? What does "innocence" mean for him? To him?
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