Grade 10 Honors Assignment

  • Journal Entries for English 2H Summer Reading    The Catcher in the Rye


    Essential Questions for The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

    • What insights into American culture would this book teach an outsider?
    • How do characters protect themselves?
    • What is the relationship between fiction and truth?
    • What does it mean to belong or fit in with a group?
    • How do experiences shape identity?
    • How can one person’s perspective differ from another?

    What insights into American culture would this book teach an outsider?

    Journal Entry #1 – Chapters 1 & 2

    1.  Salinger uses the literary device of DICTION to describe his narrator and other characters. Describe
    2.  Holden and one other character identifying three words for each one.  How does Salinger use word choice to convey American culture (hint: what is valued? What is important?)
    3.  Why does Holden feel sorry for Mr. Spencer?  What exactly does Mr. Spencer do to evoke Holden’s pity?           (PATHOS)
    4.  Explain the significance of D.B.’s jaguar? [SYMBOLISM]

    How do characters protect themselves?

    Journal Entry #2 – Chapters 3 & 4

    1.  Take an excerpt from the text and write it  in 2nd OR 3rd person point of view.  How does it change the meaning of the text? Tone?
    2.  Extract one of Holden’s contradictions.  Why would he contradict himself and why is it important?
    3.  Holden conveys his ideas through verbal irony.  Choose one of these: hyperbole (exaggeration), understatement, or sarcasm and explain how Holden reveals his personality to us.

    How do experiences shape identity?

    Journal Entry #3 – Chapter 5

    1.  Through the lens of symbolism, how does Holden’s hat and Allie’s catcher’s mitt represent a more abstract concept?  Cite the textual evidence to support your conclusions.
    2.  How does Salinger use imagery when describing Allie?  Explain how this imagery is effective and cite text in your response.
    3.  Examine how Holden is impacted by Allie’s death.  How does his immediate reaction convey a lingering emotional issue?

    Journal Entry #4 – Chapters 6 - 8

    1. Discuss Holden’s penchant for lying.  Why would anyone lie?
    2. Select a quotation from these chapters and write it in either 2nd person or 3rd person point of view.  How does it change the perspective?
    3. How does Holden annoy you? Do you think Salinger has Holden annoy us intentionally? Why? Why not?

    What does it mean to belong or fit in with a group?

    Journal Entry #5 – Chapters 9 & 10

    1. Who is Faith Cavendish?  How does the interaction with her reveal, once again, Holden's complicated personality?
    2. Holden expresses his love for Phoebe in this way: You should see her.  You never saw a little kid so pretty and smart your whole life.  She’s really smart. I mean she’s had all A’s ever since she started school. As a matter of fact, I’m the only dumb one in the family.” Why is Holden incapable of speaking of himself this way?
    3. Why is Holden attracted to the “three witches” (Bernice, Marty and Laverne) at the Lavender Room?  Cite textual evidence that demonstrates his emotions of anger, frustration, and disappointment. How do these women perceive Holden?  Give an example from the text.
    4. Write a letter to Holden.  What kind of advice would you give him at this point of the book?

    Journal Entry #6 – Chapters 11 & 12

    1. Select whether Holden is a duck or fish.  Explain your choice with specific evidence.
    2. Holden tells us how Jane Gallagher is different.  How is she different from other girls? What word does he use when he speaks of her that Holden rarely uses when describing himself?
    3. Provide two examples of Holden’s observations at Ernie’s bar.  In what categories would Holden place them: phony, moron, or screwball?

    What is the relationship between fiction and truth?

    Journal Entry #7 – Chapters 13 & 14

    1. Look up the term “yellow” and the way Holden uses it to refer to himself.   Avoid the first definition as in color and determine what he means. Do you think he is accurate in this assessment of himself?
    2. Notice Salinger’s use of color in these chapters.  List them all and why you think they matter? What truth do they reveal? How do Holden’s contradiction reveal his truth?
    3. In one sentence, identify Holden’s central conflict.

    How can one person’s perspective differ from another?

    Journal Entry # 8 – Chapters 15 & 16

    In a well developed paragraph with a minimum of two pieces of evidence respond to the following prompt:

    Explain why the boy singing "If a body catch a body coming through the rye" makes Holden feel "not so depressed anymore." Relate Holden's feelings about children to his central conflict using this scene and another from anywhere in the book.

    What insights into American culture would this book teach an outsider?

    Journal Entry #9 – Chapters 17 & 18

    Explain how the following quotation reveals insights into American culture: 

         “I once go this girl Roberta Walsh’s roommate a date with a friend of mine.  His name was Bob Robinson and he really had an inferiority complex.  You could tell he was very ashamed of his parents and all, because they said ‘he don’t’ and ‘she don’t’ and stuff like that and they weren’t very wealthy.  But he wasn’t a bastard or anything.  He was a very nice guy.”

    How can one person’s perspective differ from another?

    Journal Entry #10 – Chapters 19 & 20

    1. What advice does Luce offer to Holden?  How does Holden react?
    2. Which of Holden’s questions to Luce unnerve him [Luce]?  Use textual evidence for support.
    3. Whom does Holden call?  Why?
    4. Identify three sentences that you find important and annotate them for  when Holden discusses Allie’s grave.

    Journal Entry #11 – Chapter 21

    1.  Why does Holden need to return home?  Who is not present that makes it easier for Holden to go into his apartment undetected?
    2. Describe Phoebe.  In what ways is she similar to Allie?  In what ways is she older than Holden?How would you describe their relationship?
    3. Explain how Holden’s apartment and location defines his economic status.  

    How do experiences shape identity?

    Journal Entry #12 – Chapters 22 & 23

    1. When Phoebe asks Holden to name one thing he likes, he can’t answer, and begins to think about James Castle. Why does Phoebe’s question lead to this memory?  
    2. What does Holden want to be when he grows up? Explain how Holden perceives himself as the “catcher in the rye.”  What does it suggest about Holden’s central conflict?
    3. Who is Mr. Antolini?  Why does Holden call him the “best teacher I ever had?  
    4. How does Phoebe protect Holden?

    Journal Entry #13 – Chapters 24 - 26

    1. How does interaction with Mr. Antolini resemble that with Mr. Spencer?  How does it differ?    
    2. Mr. Antolini makes comments to Holden that reveal a different perspective to Holden.  Choose one of these comments and how it reveals another perspective to Holden’s problems?
    3. Why does Holden leave Mr. Antolini’s apartment?  What is your opinion of this event?
    4. How does the following statement pertain to Holden?  “All the kids kept trying to grab for the gold ring, and so was old Phoebe, and I was sort of afraid she’d fall off the goddamn horse, but I didn’t say anything or do anything.  The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you to let them do it, and not say anything. If they fall off, they all off, but it’s bad if you say anything to them.”

    Journal # 14 - Final Response

    Write two paragraphs agreeing or disagreeing with the following statement by Jennifer Schuessler of the New York Times describing why today’s young readers feel disconnected from the book.

    “The culture is also more competitive. These days, teenagers seem more interested in getting into Harvard than in flunking out of Pencey Prep. Young people, with their compulsive text-messaging and hyperactive pop culture metabolism, are more enchanted by wide-eyed, quidditch-playing Harry Potter of Hogwarts than by the smirking manager of Pencey’s fencing team (who was lame enough to lose the team’s equipment on the subway, after all). Today’s pop culture heroes, it seems, are the nerds who conquer the world — like Harry — not the beautiful losers who reject it.”

     Schuessler, Jennifer.  “Get a Life, Holden Caulfield.” New York Times. 20 June 2009.



Last Modified on June 11, 2019