CATCHER IN THE RYE INTERVIEW FOCUS QUESTIONSPlot Summary:The Catcher in the Rye is set around the 1950s and is narrated by a young man namedHolden Caulfield. Holden is not specific about his location while he’s telling the story, but hemakes it clear that he is undergoing treatment in a mental hospital or sanatorium. The eventshe narrates take place in the few days between the end of the fall school term and Christmas,when Holden is sixteen years old. Holden’s story began on a Saturday following the end ofclasses at the Pencey prep school in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. Pencey is Holden’s fourthschool; he had already failed out of three others. At Pencey, he had failed four out of five ofhis classes and had received notice that he is being expelled, but he was not scheduled toreturn home to Manhattan until Wednesday. Holden clashes with his roommate, Stradlater, asenior, over Stradlater's treatment of Jane Gallagher, his date, and then left school aboutmidnight to go to New York City where Holden attempted to connect with other people andfailed to do so, which caused him to dread maturity and grasp on to his apotheosize views ofyouth hood. Throughout,most of the novel recounted Holdens pursuit for connectionfollowing him through dozens of encounters from people like cab drivers,formers andclassmates and many others acquaintances while he stayed in New york. Because he hadlittle sense of his effect on others and refused to conform to societal norms, he failed inevery attempt, and adopted a self-protective overlay of disgust with the world throughout hisdifferent experiences with people and thought of them as “phony’s” . Ultimately his refusal togrow up and enter the adult world was torn to failure, which resulted in complete collapse.Main Characters:Holden CaulfieldThe narrator and protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye, Holden is the son of a wealthy NewYork family who moves from boarding school to boarding school after being repeatedlyexpelled. Although he displays a number of typical teenage characteristics, his adolescentfoibles become increasingly disturbing throughout the novel, revealing a self-destructiveside. Holden, it seems, has been particularly devastated by the death of his brother Allie, whohe considered the perfect child. This had thrown him into an existential crisis of sorts; hewas unable to find joy in life or to cope with his loss. Ultimately on the brink, he capitulatedto convention and came back home, though there was a little sense that he had found eventhe basic ingredients for happiness.He is uncomfortable with his own weaknesses, and attimes displays as much deceptiveness, meanness, and superficiality as anyone else in thebook. As the novel opens, Holden stands self assured on the cliff separating childhood fromadulthood. His inability to successfully negotiate the past leaves him on the verge ofemotional collapse.
Phoebe CaulfieldPhoebe, Holden's nine-year-old younger sister, is more mature and intelligent than her ageimplies. She realizes the extent of her brother's misanthropy and unhappiness. Holden