J D Salinger/ “The Catcher in the Rye” Part 2: Class Discussion Notes

  • The book has the rebelliousness of teenagers in it, (Holden failing all his classes)
  • Smoking was not a big deal in that time
  • Swearing wasn’t common in teen literature at the time, one of the first
  • Some people really identify with it
  • Was read in the Soviet Union: used as propaganda by the Soviets to show what was wrong with capitalism
  • Because of damage caused by Hinckley attempting assassinate Reagan and hitting John Brady causing permanent brain damage, a law was passed for 15 days to get the gun – Hinckley wanted people to know about the book
    • Not only attempted assassination- John Lennon assassination by Chapman
  • J. D. Salinger born in 1919 – dad was a Rabbi who owned a ham and meat store
    • Jewish comes from the mother’s side
    • J. D. Salinger didn’t know till later as was raised Jewish
    • nicknamed Sonny or Jerry
    • flunked out of a really exclusive prep school- basis for Pencey
    • got sent to Valley Forge Military School
    • Goes to NYU and flunks, went to Colombia (late 1930s) and met a professor that encouraged him to write
    • didn’t play the rules
    • Drafted in 1942 and let out many years later
      • In D-Day, day 1- when people were being mowed down, in counter intelligence, and Battle of the Bulge
      • Also helped liberate a concentration camps, many dead bodies piled in stacks, also experiments there
      • got shell shocked, also known as PTSD now
      • Never talked about all of this stuff, part of him died
      • wrote The Catcher in the Rye and studied different types of religions, not western, Zen Buddhism and Hinduism
      • Asks where do the ducks go relates to Zen Buddhism
      • got married to a Gestapo informant, lasted 8 months
    • liked to write short stories, said long stories harder to write
    • wrote about two families- Caulfield and Glass?
    • lived very well off royalties of just The Catcher in the Rye
    • he is concerned with innocence and its preservation- children, the white car, wanted everything to be static and not to change
    • lived in a compound, and wanted to be alone
    • didn’t like how people how people worshiped him, was a recluse
    • had a house for writing- when he died they found a lot of stories that he wrote but never published, ex. An ocean full of bowling balls- talks about Alie? who is not feeling well but is talking to DB and talking about Holden, family said they were going to publish more of his stories
    • had a history for going for much younger women- 18 year old vs her 53 year old, wanted to control her which was he broke up with her
      • no evidence that he was a child molester, but liked to be around younger people for their innocence in Catcher
  • Mom was a Scottish immigrant
  • Sunny and DB, calls both of the same occupation as he feels his brother does what others wants only like Sunny, both had ties to Hollywood also
  • Holden uses hyperbole and exaggeration a lot
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