The Catcher in the Rye

The Summary of The Catcher in the Rye by Jerome David Salinger

The story of the book takes place in USA around 1950s. Holden Caulfield is the main character and he is also narrator of the story. He is in a hospital and the events he narrates take place six months before he begins to narrate them. He is sixteen years old, he has already failed three schools and he goes to the Pencey Prep, a famous school in Pennsylvania. The events in the book take place in three days before the Christmas vacation begins.

Three days before Christmas vacation Holden goes to his former history teacher's home to say goodbye because he will be expelled from school because of his failure in four out of his five classes. When he goes to the house of his former teacher, Mr. Spencer, he begins to give Holden advice about his academic failure and life but Holden does not like being lectured and goes back to dormitory.

In dormitory, while Holden is reading a book Ackley, the boy who lives in next room, comes to Holden's room and distracts him. Despite Holden insists him to leave him alone he only goes after Stradlater, Holden's popular roommate, comes to room. Stradlater tells him that he has a date with Jane Gallagher, Holden's former neighbour who he used to play with and he still likes, and wants Holden to write a composition. Stradlater goes to meet Jane and Holden writes a composition about the baseball mitts of Allie, his brother who died of leukaemia. When Stradlater comes back from date he gets angry about the composition and Holden asks about the details of his date with Jane. When he does not answer Holden gets angry and attacks him. Stradlater punches him and his nose begins to bleed. Holden decides to go to Manhattan, where his family lives, and stay in a hotel for three days. He does not want to go to home because he does not want them to understand that he is expelled before they get the news from Pencey.

He gets on the train to go to New York, on the train he encounters with a mother of one of his colleagues from school and he tells lies to the woman about his son although he thinks he is a 'complete bastard'. He arrives at New York, gets in a cab and asks driver to take him to the Edmont Hotel. After he checks in he calls Faith Cavendish, a woman whose number he has got from a boy in a party. Faith gets angry by being called in a late hour and tries to arrange a date tomorrow but Holden does not want to wait and Hangs on.

Holden goes to the nightclub of the hotel. Before he goes there he thinks about calling his sister, Phoebe, but does not call in case his parents answer the phone. In the nightclub he dances with three women in their thirties, who seem to be out of town. After making jokes about Holden's age they go and Holden pays the entire tab. He goes to lobby and starts to think about Jane Gallagher, how he got to know her.

Holden goes to Ernie's jazz club and he encounters with Lillian Simmons, a girl that his older brother, D.B., used to date. Lillian asks him to sit with her and her boyfriend but he has to meet somebody and goes back to Edmont Hotel. While he is going to his room Maurice, the elevator operator, offers him to send a prostitute to his room for five dollars. He accepts the offer and goes to his room. After a while a young girl, Sunny, comes to Holden's room. She takes of her dress, Holden tries to have a conversation with her, then Holden feels peculiar and claiming he has an operation recently and is not recovered enough to have sex with her, he gives her five dollars and asks her to leave. Sunny wants five dollars more but Holden refuses to pay any more money. After a while, Sunny comes back with Maurice, they demand another five dollars. Holden refuses to give money, Maurice punches him and while he is on the floor Sunny takes five dollars from his wallet.

Next morning he calls Sally Hayes, a girl whom she used to date, they arrange a date and they decide to go to a Broadway play afternoon. He leaves the hotel and have a breakfast in a sandwich bar. He calls Jane Gallagher but when her mother answers Holden hangs up the phone. Then, he wants to see Phoebe and goes to Central Park because he thinks she might be there but he encounters with one of Phoebe's friends there. He meets Sally and they go to the play. After the play, the go to Radio City to ice skate. After skating for a while they get a table and Holden tries to explain her why he is not happy at school. He says there are a lot of phonies at school. Soon, they have a discussion and Sally leaves Holden.

Then, Holden goes to a drugstore and buys a sandwich and malted. After he calls Jane again and gets no answer, Holden calls Carl Luce, his student advisor at Whooton School and Colombia University student and they arrange to meet at the bar in Seton Hotel. Luce used to talk to boys at Whooton School about sex and when they meet at bar Holden tries to make a conversation with him about it but he refuses and leaves early. After he goes Holden gets drunk and goes to the lagoon at the Central Park to see whether the ducks are still there or not. When he goes there, his hair begins to freeze because he has wet his face and hairs at the hotel in order to sober up. He decides to go to home to see his little sister. He sneaks into house and wakes Phoebe. After talking about her school and the play she has a part she realizes that Holden has come early from school she realizes that he is expelled. She gets mad at his brother. He tries to explain why he does not like school, she blames him for not liking anything. Then he tells her his dream of being "the catcher in the rye'', a person who catches little kids who plays in the field of rye when they are about to fall off of a cliff. Phoebe tells him that he has misremembered the poem that he inspired: Robert Burns' poem says "if a body meet a body, coming through the rye," not "catch a body". Holden calls Mr Antolini, his English teacher from Elkton Hills. Mr Antolini tells Holden that he can come to his apartment. Mr Antolini talks Holden about his expulsion and tries to give him advice about his future. While they are talking Holden can't prevent himself from yawning and Mr. Antolini makes up the couch. Holden suddenly awakens and finds Mr. Antolini stroking his forehead. Mr Antolini claims it was nothing but, thinking that Mr. Antolini is making a homosexual advance, Holden excuses himself and leaves, spends the night on a bench at Grand Central Station.

Holden decides to leave the school and hitchhike to west and live there. Before he leaves he wants to give the money he has borrowed from Phoebe back and say goodbye to her. Holden goes to Phoebe's school and sends her a note saying that he will leave home wants to meet her at lunchtime at the museum. Phoebe comes with a suitcase full of clothes and asks Holden to take her with him. He refuses in a angry way and yells at her, and she cries and then refuses to speak to him. He tells her that he will won't go. He knows that she is going to follow him and he walks to the zoo, and then takes her across the park to a carousel. He buys her a ticket and watches her ride it. It starts to rain heavily, everybody goes to under the roof of carousel, but Holden is so happy watching his sister ride the carousel that he is close to tears.

Holden ends narrating the story, he tells the reader that he is not going to tell the story of how he went home and got sick. He says he misses all people he talks about and he will go to a new school in the fall.

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