Catcher in the Rye

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  • 02.09 Project AP English Lit & Comp
  • Catcher in the Rye
  • EXPOSITION
  • RISING ACTION
  • CONFLICT
  • Holden Caulfield begins the novel in Pennsylvania, at Pencey Prep, the fourth school from which he has been expelled. He introduces us to characters like Ackley and Stradlater, while explaining mostly negative traits about both of them. He is clearly annoyed by those around him.
  • FALLING ACTION
  • Holden decides to leave school early to take a train to New York, where he books a hotel for a night. Although his family lives in New York, he never tells his parents about his abrupt departure because he does not want to tell them he has been expelled from another school. While in New York, tries to socialize with friends (Sally Hayes and Carl Luce) but each meeting ends in disaster, leaving Holden feeling even more lonely than before.
  • DENOUEMENT
  • For this story, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where the climax is reached, if it ever actually is reached at all. In essence, Holden does not actually do anything, it is his mental state that keeps fluctuating. However, a possible point of climax is where he is wandering around Central Park after running from Mr. Antolini's house, and is convinced he has cancer and pneumonia and will definitely die. He then plans to run away from home forever.
  • Like the climax, the falling action of the story is very open to interpretation. One interpretation includes the event where Holden is waiting to say goodbye to Phoebe at Natural History Museum, but she shows up with a suitcase and insists that she is going with Holden if he is running away. This makes Holden realize how impractical his plan of running away actually is. He then takes Phoebe to a merry-go-round in Central Park.
  • While watching Phoebe at the merry-go-round, Holden begins to feel incredibly happy, and bursts into tears. He realizes how much he loves his family and that he wants to give the world a second chance. It may also be when he admits to himself that he needs help, as it is revealed that he is telling the story from some sort of mental institute. He also reveals that he misses many people, even the "phonies," indicating that he may have really connected with some people.
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