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The Catcher in the Rye Quotes from J. D. Salinger Novel

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If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 1, opening words of book. We are immediately introduced to a boy who is self-absorbed, isolated from his family, profane and deeply insecure.

I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean, that's all I told D.B. about, and he's my brother and all. He's in Hollywood. That isn't too far from this crumby place.
The Catcher in the Rye
Chapter 1. Holden calls his older brother a prostitute because he sold his writing talents to Hollywood and writes movie scripts purely for money.

Old Selma Thurmer - she was the headmaster's daughter - showed up at the games quite often, but she wasn't exactly the type that drove you mad with desire. She was a pretty nice girl, though. I sat next to her once in the bus from Agerstown and we sort of struck up a conversation. I liked her. She had a big nose and her nails were all bitten down and bleedy-looking and she had on those damn falsies that point all over the place, but you felt sort of sorry for her. What I liked about her, she didn't give you a lot of horse manure about what a great guy her father was. She probably knew what a phony slob he was.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 1

What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I've left schools and places I didn't even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don't care if it's a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like to know I'm leaving it. If you don't, you feel even worse.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 1. Holden is a sensitive boy with strong feelings. He attaches importance to feelings. He feels terrible and disgraced for flunking out of his fourth school and disgracing himself with the fencing team.

Pencey was full of crooks. Quite a few guys came from these wealthy families, but it was full of crooks anyway. The more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has - I'm not kidding.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 1. Someone stole his good camel hair coat the week before, so he was freezing while he was watching the football game without it.

It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 1

I don't even know what I was running for - I guess I just felt like it.
The Catcher in the Rye
Chapter 1. Running is the only thing that the immature Holden knows he can do - to run from his problems.

I shook my head. I shake my head quite a lot. "Boy!" I said. I also say "Boy!" quite a lot. Partly because I have a lousy vocabulary and partly because I act quite young for my age sometimes. I was sixteen then, and I'm seventeen now, and sometimes I act like I'm about thirteen. It's really ironical, because I'm six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. I really do. The one side of my head – the right side – is full of millions of gray hairs. I've had them ever since I was a kid. And yet I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true. People always think something's all true. I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am – I really do – but people never notice it. People never notice anything.
The Catcher in the Rye
Chapter 2. Holden has been expelled from his fourth school for failure to earn passing grades in four out of five classes. His favorite teacher Mr. Spencer, instead of wishing him a pleasant good-bye, gives him the standard lecture from an adult to a teenage slacker. Holden is disappointed. His defensiveness is linked to his deep anxieties about identity - in this case whether he is every inch an adult. He isn't.

Grand. There's a word I really hate. It's phony. I could puke every time I hear it.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 2, when his teacher Mr. Spencer calls his parents "grand people." To Holden adults just use this word when they have nothing else to say.

"I'm just going through a phase right now. Everybody goes through phases and all, don't they?"
The Catcher in the Rye
Chapter 2, Holden to his teacher Mr. Spencer, having been kicked out of Pencey, his fourth school that he has been kicked out of.

"Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules."
"Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it."
Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it's a game, all right - I'll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren't any hot-shots, then what's a game about it?
The Catcher in the Rye
Chapter 2. Exchange between Holden and his history teacher Mr. Spencer who talks to him about playing the game of life by the rules. Both have cynical views about society and the world. Out loud and to his face Holden agrees with Mr. Spencer, but in his head he curses him.

I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go? I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 2. The ducks are symbolic of Holden. He wonders what happens to them the same way as he worries about what will happen to him when he grows up and becomes an adult.

I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera. It's terrible.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 3, after lying to the headmaster.

He started telling us how he was never ashamed, when he was in some kind of trouble or something, to get right down on his knees and pray to God. He told us we should always pray to God - talk to Him and all - whenever we were. He told us we ought to think of Jesus as our buddy and all. He said he talked to Jesus all the time. Even when he was driving in his car. That killed me. I can just see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear and asking Jesus to send him a few more stiffs.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 3

What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 3, talking about authors like Ring Lardner, Isak Dinesen and Thomas Hardy.

I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 18. Holden reads a lot of serious novels - his favorite books include 'Out of Africa' and he also likes 'Return of the Native'and 'Of Human Bondage'. But he does not always grasp the significance and meaning of what he is reading.

Ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 4

People never believe you.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 5. He appears to be making a point about society's views towards teenagers like him. He just doesn't trust adults.

You could also hear old Ackley snoring. Right through the goddam shower curtains you could hear him. he has sinus trouble and he couldn't breathe too hot when he was asleep. That guy had just about everything. Sinus trouble, pimples, lousy teeth, halitosis, crumby fingernails. You had to feel a little sorry for that crazy sonuvabitch.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 5

So what I did, I wrote about my brother Allie's baseball mitt. It was a very descriptive subject. It really was. My brother Allie had this left-handed fielder's mitt. He was left-handed. The thing that was descriptive about it, though, was that he had poems written all over the fingers and the pocket and everywhere. In green ink. He wrote them on it so that he'd have something to read when he was in the field and nobody was up at bat. He's dead now. He got leukemia and died when we were up in Maine, on July 18, 1946. You'd have liked him. He was two years younger than I was, but he was about fifty times as intelligent. He was terrifically intelligent. His teachers were always writing letters to my mother, telling her what a pleasure it was having a boy like Allie in their class. And they weren't just shooting the crap. They really meant it. But it wasn't just that he was the most intelligent member in the family. He was also the nicest, in lots of ways. He never got mad at anybody. […] God, he was a nice kid, though. He used to laugh so hard at something he thought of at the dinner table that he just about fell off his chair.
The Catcher in the Rye
Holden Caulfield in Chapter 5. Holden cannot understand why his brother Allie who was much cleverer than him died. He feels guilty that he, who lives because he is not sick like Allie was, is stupid and inferior. The baseball glove reminds him of the kind of person his brother was: smart, friendly and inventive. This is the emotion at the center of Holden's journey throughout the novel.

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The Catcher in the Rye - a 1951 novel by American writer J. D. Salinger. This classic story of teenage rebellion, angst and alienation was originally published for adults. It has since become popular with adolescent readers. Salinger was born Jerome David Salinger on January 1, 1919, in New York City. He died on January 27, 2010.

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