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Essay Test Assignment

Your Task: Write a unified essay about lessons in the loss of innocence as revealed in The Catcher in the Rye and “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” In your essay, use ideas from both passages to establish a controlling idea about lessons in the loss of innocence. Using evidence from each passage, develop your controlling idea and show how the author uses specific literary elements or techniques to convey the idea.


Be sure to

  • Use ideas from both passages to establish a controlling idea about lessons in the loss of innocence
  • Use specific and relevant evidence from each passage to develop your controlling idea
  • Show how each author uses specific literary elements (for example: theme, characterization, structure, point of view) or techniques (for example: symbolism, figurative language, personification) to convey the controlling idea
  • Organize your ideas in a logical and coherent manner
  • Use language that communicates ideas effectively
  • Follow the conventions of standard written English

Passage I

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost

Passage II

The Catcher in the Rye

[Note: You may use your novel, but not your notes, as your write your essay. Include quotations—using quotation marks and giving the author credit—as evidence to establish the controlling idea for this essay. While you may use any part of The Catcher in the Rye, pay particular attention to chapter 25 when Phoebe and Holden go to the carousel (around page 211).]

-J.D. Salinger


Presentation Grading Rubric

Your five-minute presentations will begin this week. When you present you are meant to embody the person—this means that you should talk like them, use words that they would use; dress like them; act like them, etc. The class should be able to guess who you are (so long as you have chosen a famous person) based solely on your performance. You may make a speech or perform a skit, but the essence—the central aspect or soul of your person—must be conveyed in your five-minute presentation.

If you have filmed your performance you must notify Ms. Fischer and tell her whether you need a VCR or DVD player at least two days before your scheduled presentation date.


If you are unable to present on your scheduled presentation date you will lose twenty points and be assigned a new date. If you fail to present a second time, you will fail the project (one test grade).


You will be graded based on the following rubric:

Preparedness to present on your scheduled day and time.

It should not take you long to set up.

Length of performance.

5 minutes.

Performance flow.

No long awkward pauses and students grope for their lines, etc.

Knowledge of lines.

Memorization is the goal; however glancing at cue cards is acceptable. Reading from a script and not making eye contact is not acceptable.

Accuracy of your portrayal.

Capture the essence of the person with your language, dialogue, movements, etc.

Quality of script and pre-planning materials.

Submit all prior planning documents to Ms. Fischer. Evidence of thoughtful prior planning is required.

Quality of written research notes.

Research notes must be submitted at the time of the presentation. These notes must be written by the student (not printed off the computer)l they must be factually accurate; and they should include source material (where did the information come from).


The presentation must be loud enough to hear and clearly articulated.

Physical Presentation.

The attire (clothing), props, body language, and stage movements of the presentation.

Effort and Involvement.

The amount of effort displayed in both your own performance as well as in the performances of others. This mean, you are an excellent audience member during other people’s presentations. If you have participated in other people’s presentations, you will receive additional credit.

For each of the 10 rubric categories you will receive a mark of 10 – 0 based on the following scale: 10 = Excellent / Exceeds Standards, 8 = Good / Above Standard, 6 = Average / Standard, 4 = Needs Improvement / Approaching Standards, 2 = Poor / Fails to Meet Standards, 0 = Failing

This project is worth 100 points or the equivalent of one test grade.

Highlighting / Post It Note Key

Pay attention to both the era (time period) as well as the places Holden visits in New York
Maintain a list of characters and characteristics
Symbols & Motifs
Watch out for Holden's red hunting hat, ducks, and the Museum of Natural History, the baseball glove, Radio City Music Hall, and the Carrousel ring .
Tone & Mood
Pay attention to changes in the tone or mood of the narrative voice
Look for: alienation/loneliness; the journey from childhood innocence to maturity; the hypocrisy of the adult world; interpersonal relationships; and death.


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Catcher in the Rye


Chapter 1 / Notes

1.      What does Holden mean when he says that his brother D.B. is out in Hollywood "being a prostitute"?

2.      Where is Holden as the story begins?

3.      Where and what is Pencey Prep?

4.      How did Holden let the fencing team down?

5.      Why was Holden being kicked out of Pencey Prep?

6.      What kind of health does Holden appear to be in?

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Chapter 2

1.      Who is Mr. Spencer and why does Holden visit him?

2.      What did Spencer do that particularly annoyed Holden?

3.      What does Holden give us as the reason for "leaving" Elkton Hills? 

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Chapter 3

1.      What does Holden mean when he says "I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot"?  Give examples of what he reads.

2.      Who is Ackley?  Describe him.

3.      What does Ackley do that annoys Holden? 

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Chapter 4

1.      Who is Stradlater?  Why does Holden refer to him as a  "secret slob"?  What does he look like?

2.      What point does Holden try to make about people when he talks about Stradlater and the "commas" and Ackley's description of the basketball player?

3.      Why did it make Holden nervous that Stradlater was going  out with Jane Gallagher?

Additional Chapter 4 Questions to Consider

  1. Why does Holden spend so much time with Ackley if he can’t stand him?
  2. On the surface, Ackley and Stradlater are direct opposites. Ackley is unpleasant to look at and be around; Stradlater is good looking and can be very charming. But the truth is: they are very much alike. For each of the following traits, find a similar trait in the other character.
Ackley Stradlater   

Ackley’s poor personal habits and hygiene.



Stradlater’s disparaging instructions to Holden asking him not to put all the commas in the right place.

Ackley’s disregard for other people.



      3. What was unique about the way in which Jane Gallagher played checkers?

      4. Stradlater exhibits a lack of interest in the biographical information that Holden provides for him           concerning Jane Gallagher. What information finally piques Stradlater’s interest?

      5. What is bothering Holden at the end of the chapter?

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 Chapter 5

1.      Who is Allie, and why is his baseball mitt so special to Holden?

2.      Why did Holden's parents want to have him psychoanalyzed? 

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Chapter 6

1.      What do Holden and Stradlater fight over?

2.      Holden says that he is a "pacifist".  What is that, and is he?

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Chapter 7

1.      Why does Holden suddenly decide to visit Ackley's room?

2.      Where does Holden then decide to go?

3.      What is his final good-bye to Pencey Prep?

4.      Why do you think Holden was crying as he left?

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Chapter 8

1.      What does Holden mean when he says, "Mothers are all slightly insane"?

2.      What are some of the lies Holden tells Mrs. Morrow?  Do you think he's as sorry for them as he stated?

Additional Study Quesstions
1. Why does Holden walk to the train station?
2. What does Holden say when asked whether he likes Pencey Prep?
3. Why is Mrs. Morrow concerned about Ernest?
4. Because Holden likes Mrs. Morrow, what does he tell her about Ernest?
5. According to Holden, why was Ernest Morrow not elected president of the class?
6. What does Mrs. Morrow suspect is the reason for Holden’s going home late on a Saturday night?
7. What is Holden’s explanation for going home on Saturday?
8. Why does Mrs. Morrow keep calling Holden by the name Rudolf?
9. Where does Mrs. Morrow invite Holden to visit Ernest in the summer?
10. What excuse does Holden give to Mrs. Morrow for not being able to visit Ernest in the summer?

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Chapter 9

1.      Holden calls other people phony.  In what way is he one?

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Chapter 10

1.      Who is Phoebe, and what is Holden's opinion of her?

2.      What evidence is there that shows us that Holden probably doesn't look as old as he says he looks?

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Chapter 11

1.      What was the past relationship like between Holden and Jane

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Chapter 12

1.      What doe Holden and the cab driver talk about?

2.      Why does Holden leave Ernie's?

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Chapter 13

1.      Previously Holden stated he was a "pacifist".  Does his description of how he would deal with the "glove thief" support this, or is he just "yellow"?

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 Chapter 14

1.      Does Holden have any guilt feelings about Allie?  Do you feel this is abnormal in any way, or normal?

2.      What made Holden cry?

3.      What evidence shows us that Holden might have made a good actor?

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Chapter 15

1.      What is the point that Holden tries to make about people when he elaborates about the suitcases of the nuns and of his former roommate?

2.      How does Holden treat the nuns?

3.      Why does Holden think it spoils a conversation if someone asks what religion he is?

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Chapter 16

1.      Who does Holden make a date with?  Why does he call her up if he thinks she's a phony?

2.      How does Holden treat little kids?  Give an example.

3.      Does Holden know his way around the city?  What does this tell us about him?

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 Chapter 17

1.      How do Holden's feelings for women compare to his feelings for men?

2.      How does Holden feel about actors?  The Lunts?

3.      What is Holden's point about the difference between men owning a car and men owning a horse?

4.      How does Holden describe a boy's school when talking to Sally?

5.      Why does Holden want to take off with Sally now instead of after college?  What is the difference in his eyes? 

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Chapter 18

1.      What is Holden's opinion of the Christmas show at Radio City? 

2.      Why did Holden think the woman who cried through the movie was a phony? 

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Chapter 19

1.      Why did Holden get mad at Luce for calling his (Luce's) old girlfriend the "Whore of New Hampshire"?

2.      Who was Luce to Holden?

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Chapter 20

1.      How does Holden "act" again in this chapter?

2.      What happens to Holden at the Wicker Bar?

3.      What happens to Phoebe's record?

4.      Where does Holden go right after he leaves the bar?

5.      What information does Holden finally tell us about Allie's funeral?

6.      What does Holden say about Allie that contradicts all his other statements about being an atheist?

7.      After he leaves the park, where does Holden go?

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Chapter 21

1.      What does Holden find so intriguing about Phoebe's note- book?

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Chapter 22

1.      Why did it depress Holden when an "old guy" told him that his days at Pencey were the happiest days of his life?

2.      What does it tell us about Holden when Phoebe states, "You don't like anything that's happening"?

3.      Why does Holden think about James Castle when Phoebe asks him to name one thing that he likes a lot?  Why does he deny really knowing James?\What does it tell us about Holden when he says, "Just because somebody's dead, you don't just stop liking them, for God's sake---especially if they were a thousand times nicer than the people you know that're alive and all"?

4.      What does Holden tell Phoebe he'd like to be?

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Chapter 23

1.      Who is Mr. Antolini?

2.      How does Phoebe cover for Holden when their parents come home?

3.      In talking with her parents how does Phoebe "sound" like Holden?

4.      What does Phoebe do that makes Holden cry?

5.      What does Holden give to Phoebe?

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Chapter 24

1.      Why did Holden fail his speech class?

2.      How does Holden feel physically while he talks to Mr. Antolini?

3.      What does Holden say about him hating people, such as Ackley and Stradlater? 

4.      What does Antolini's quote mean, "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one"?

5.      How does Antolini upset and scare Holden?  Can you relate his to Holden's previous digression about "flits"?

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Chapter 25

1.      Later, after he has had time to think about it, what does Holden think about Antolini?

2.      Why does the article on hormones upset Holden?

3.      What strange feeling does Holden start to have when he steps off of curbs?

4.      Why does he keep repeating, "Allie, don't let me disappear"?

5.      What does Holden decide he must do next?  Where does he first go?

6.      With all the bad language that Holden uses, why was he so upset that curse words were written on a school wall?

7.      How does Holden treat the two small boys in the museum?

8.      Why is it so important to Holden that Phoebe not be mad at him?  Relate this to his past, and Allie.

9.      What does Holden mean when he states, "The thing with kids is, if they want to grab for the gold ring, you have to let them do it, and not say anything.  If they fall off, they fall off, but it's bad if you say anything to them"?

10.  Is the carrousel symbolic?

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Chapter 26

1.      At the conclusion, where is Holden?

2.      What was the past relationship like between Holden and Jane?

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The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Chapter One Notes

J.D. Salinger writes The Catcher in the Rye in an informal, colloquial style.Colloquial refers to a type of informal diction that reflects casual, conversational language and often includes slang expressions. The colloquial style and the unnecessary use of vulgarities present a colorful, vivid picture of a teenager, the first person narrator Holden Caulfield, who is trying to appear “cool” and grown up, but who has some problems.

Holden has a sharp eye for identifying the lack of authenticity in others, this will be apparent throughout the novel. This motif, or recurrent idea, of phoniness begins in the first chapter:

  • D.B., Holden’s older brother, is phony because he has “prostituted” himself to Hollywood, made a lot of money, and is no longer the authentic, regular writer whom Holden admired. (2)
  • Pencey Prep is phony with its glossy advertising campaign of polo players. (2)
  • Headmaster Thurmer is a “phony slob.” (3)

However Holden also contrasts what is not phony:

  • Selma Thurmer, the headmaster’s daughter, with her bitten-down nails and big nose (3).

Holden also begins describing himself with “I Am…” statements in the first chapter:

  • “I’m quite a heavy smoker.” (5)
  • “I’m pretty healthy, though.” (5)

Holden has been expelled from Pencey Prep and will not return after Christmas break. He must begin his journey home and face his parents, but first he wants to say goodbye to Pencey Prep, however he does not feel anything about leaving. This apathy, or lack of emotion, bothers Holden. He seems to realize that without feeling, one walks through life without living it. Finally he is able to conjure up a memory about tossing a football around with friends and is satisfied that he has felt a goodbye. This association with fellow students shows how Holden attempts to reach out to people in an attempt to alleviate his loneliness. This reaching out to others in an attempt to connect becomes a recurring theme in this book.

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WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1 - The Catcher in the Rye

  • Writing Assignment: Imagine that you can be someone else for a day. Who would you select? Why? Write a 5 paragraph descriptive essay about this person.
  • Grading Rubric:
    • Meaning – Does your essay focus around the topic and main ideas?
    • Development – Did you fully develop your ideas and include details?
    • Organization – Does your essay flow from paragraph to paragraph, idea to idea?
    • Language – Did you use sophisticated and precise language?
    • Conventions – Did you use standard grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure?
      • 6 – Excellent
      • 5 – Very Good
      • 4 – Adequate
      • 3 – Approaching Standards
      • 2 – Needs Improvement
      • 1 – Fails to Met Standards

Sometimes when we read books or watch movies, a particular character will appeal to us. We think, "Gee, I wish I could be more like that person" or "Wow! Would I like to be that person--even for a day!"

Your assignment is to write a composition in which you tell what person you would most like to be like, describe that person, and tell why you would like to be like him or her. You may choose a character from fiction or a real person from the past or present.

Maybe you know right away who you would like to be. Great! Write that person's name down on a piece of paper and skip to the next paragraph. If you don't have the slightest idea, grab a piece of paper and a pencil. Make a list of your favorite books, plays, movies, television shows, sports figures, television actors, and people in history. Next to the books, plays, movies, and television shows, write down the names of your favorite characters from each. You should now have a whole list of people's names in front of you. Simply choose the one you would most like to be like! Write that person's name at the top of a fresh sheet of paper (or on the back of the paper you've already started.)

Under your person's name, make three columns. In the left-hand column, make a detailed list of that person's physical characteristics: physical build, hair color and style, kind of clothing he/she wears, etc. On the middle column, make a list of that person's character traits: superstrong, really intelligent, bubbly personality, great sense of humor, etc. In the right-hand column make a list of reasons why you would like to be like this person.

Physical Characteristics Character Traits Why I would like to be this person












Write an introductory paragraph in which you introduce the idea that you would like to be like the person you have chosen. Follow that with one paragraph describing the physical and character traits of your person. Then write one paragraph for each of the reasons you would like to be like this person. Use a topic sentence to state the reason, and in the rest of the paragraph explain your reason using specific examples. Sum it all up with a concluding paragraph in which you bring together your ideas and bring your composition to a close.

When you finish the rough draft of your paper, ask a student who sits near you to read it. After reading your rough draft, he/she should tell you what he/she liked best about your work, which parts were difficult to understand, and ways in which your work could be improved. Reread your paper considering your critic's comments, and make the corrections you think are necessary. Do a final proofreading of your paper double-checking your grammar, spelling, organization, and the clarity of your ideas.




Catcher in the Rye Worksheet

Directions: You may work with a partner to answer these questions, however each student must hand in their own answer sheet. All questions must be answered in full sentences on a separate sheet of paper.

1.       Catcher in the Rye is an account of the breakdown of a sixteen-year-old boy. Aside from Holden's emotional problems, the first few pages give you clues as to his physical state. What is his physical state? (see pages 1-5)

2.       What are some of Holden's complaints about Pencey Prep?

3.       The Catcher in the Rye is a bildungsroman, or a story in which the hero is on a quest. What do you think Holden's "quest" is?

4.       Is Holden guilty of some of the things he accuses others of doing? Explain.

5.       How does his history teacher and classmates aggravate Holden's need for sympathy?

6.       What does Holden mean when he says "Mothers are slightly insane"? (p. 55)

7.       What does Holden mean when he states, "I'm always saying `Glad to've met you' to somebody I'm not glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to do that stuff, though." (p. 37)

8.       Who are Holden's heroes?

9.       Do you agree or disagree with this statement? "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."

10.   The motto at Pencey is that it "molds" students. Relate this to Holden.

11.   Identify the following characters and explain Holden's attitude toward each of them: Mr. Spencer, Ackley, Stradlater, Sally Hayes, Jane Gallagher.

12.   Who are the people in the novel that Holden likes? Why does he like these characters and dislike others?

13.   How does Holden feel about the world in which he lives? Are his reactions to the world negative or positive? Explain.

14.   What is the symbolic significance of the red hunting hat?

15. Which parts of Holden are "typical teen-ager" and a product of his upbringing?





Study Questions for Friday's Test

Part I-
Directions: Fully analyze and explain your answers. Be sure to use specific details from the novel to support your answers.

1. Explain and analyze the character of Jane Gallagher as she relates to Holden.
2. Explain and analyze Holden's relationship with his siblings.
3. Explain and analyze Holden's belief in phoniness verses authenticity.
4. Examine and analyze how Holden describes himself. How accurate is his portrayal of himself?

Part II-
Directions: Know the following characters.

Phoebe, Ackley, Sally, D.B., Spencer, Allie, Stradlater, Jane, Lillian, and Holden.

Part III-
Directions: Be able to fully analyze and discuss the following things in an essay. Be sure to use specific details from the novel to support your answers.

  • The setting- California, Pennsylvania, & New York in the late 1940s
  • Holden Caulfied, the protagonist, major characteristics, his tone, and the general mood
  • Themes in the novel
    • Alienation as a Form of Self-Protection
    • The Painfulness of Growing Up
    • The Phoniness of the Adult World
  • Symbolism in the novel
    • The ducks in Central Park
    • The red hunting hat
    • Allie's baseball glove
    • Snow / Snowball
  • Bildungsroman- a story where the hero must go on a quest. What is Holden's quest?





How does Holden feel about these females? (Use specific evidence from the text. You may use exact quotes or paraphrase.) Consider the following in your assessment: how he communicates with her, what he really thinks of her, and what he wants from her.


How Holden Communicates with Her

What he Really Thinks of Her

What he Wants from Her

His Mother





















Mrs. Morrow





Sally Hayes










Faith Cavendish





Three Girls at Bar










Chapter 1 of The Catcher in the Rye
Arrow over the underlined sections to read Ms. Fischer's notes.

This is a first-person narrative that is directly addressing the audience.  Pay attention between the narrator is not only talking to us [the reader], he is also talking to someone within the book. $$$ What is the time period if a Jaguar cost around $4000? Nice car! This is another clue.  Do you know where he is yet? Where might he be? This is the second time the narrator has referred to 'you.'  Who is the you? David Copperfield is a book by Charles Dickens about a boy who had a truly terrible childhood.

This is a story about innocence and the authenticity of childhood.  These ideas will become a major theme in the novel. flu excluded Holden wasn't planning on going to the game because he expected to be at a fencing match. Establishes Holden as careless and irresponsible, but also human.  Have you ever left anything important on the subway? Establishes Holden as careless and irresponsible, but also human.  Have you ever left anything important on the subway? Fencing is a sport where two opponents face off with long, thin sword-like instruments. Pads worn inside a woman's bra to make her breasts look bigger.  Here Holden is emphasizing that while Selma wanted to look attractive, she only managed to look pathetic.  This is part of why Holden likes her. Establishes Holden's tendency to isolate himself.  Why might he do this? What does this line suggest that Holden feels about the game?  Was it a big deal to him?  Does he understand why it was a big deal for other people? What does this line suggest that Holden feels about the game?  Was it a big deal to him?  Does he understand why it was a big deal for other people? What might the term 'birds' be slang for?  Look at how it is used here. What does this suggest about the school's reputation? Pency Prep is an expensive all-boys boarding school.  What can you learn about Holden and his family if his parents sent him to a private high school in a different state? This is a clue.  Begin to gather facts about Holden.  You are trying to discover what kind of person he is.  Why might someone hate the movies?  What does that suggest about them? What does Holden mean when he calls D.B. a 'prostitue?' [Hint: He doesn't mean the term sexually] What is D.B. doing in Hollywood?

The weather mirrors Holden's mood. Hmmm... sounds like an important line.  What kind of emotional state do you think Holden is in?  He's just been kicked out of a school that he didn't really like, ostracized from the fencing team for being irresponsible, and now he feels like he's disappearing. Why do you think Holden goes to say good-bye to his teacher, Old Spencer, on this freezing cold December day?  What does that suggest about the kind of person that Holden is? Why might someone who has money steal? Why might someone who has money steal? What are some of the reasons why high school students do not apply themselves? What are some of the reasons why high school students do not apply themselves?

Does Holden demonstrate much self-esteem and confidence here? Does Holden demonstrate much self-esteem and confidence here?

Directions: Read the first chapter of The Catcher in the Rye online on FischerWeb. Move the mouse over the underlined text to answer the following questions. Answer in full sentences on a separate sheet of paper.

Due: Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Focus Questions:

  1. What type of narration is used in The Catcher in the Rye?
  2. Who wrote David Copperfield? Why do you think Holden referenced this particular novel?
  3. When do you think The Catcher in the Rye is set?
  4. What is “The Secret Goldfish” about?
  5. What does Holden mean when he calls D.B. a “prostitute”?
  6. What does Holden feel about movies? Why?
  7. What is Pencey Prep like?
  8. How does Holden feel about school? About the “big game”?
  9. What recent event in Holden’s life makes him feel particularly alienated from his peers?
  10. Why does Holden go see Ms. Spencer?

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