The Catcher in the Rye Journal Questions

What Should I Write in My Cornell Notes?

Directions

  • Take notes (using pen) on lined paper.
  • You can use the questions as a guide to the types of notes a good reader would take.
  • After jotting down a note, write down the corresponding page number in the left-hand margin.
  • Important!
    • Your notes should make sense if some random person picked them up and read them.
    • Write complete sentences.
    • Consider leaving space at the bottom to add class discussion/lecture notes.

Chapters 1-4

  1. Describe Holden’s personality.
  2. How can readers tell Holden is an anti-hero?
  3. Is Holden right to think Mr. Spencer is being fake when he calls Holden’s parents grand? Explain your thinking.
  4. How can one tell Mr. Spencer actually cares about Holden?
  5. How can one tell Holden is depressed?
  6. What types of people does Holden seem to hate?
  7. How do Ackley and Stradlater bring out some of Holden’s own qualities (either by being similar or different)?
  8. Why won’t Holden go down to see Jane?

Chapters 5-8

  1. Who is Allie, and how did Holden react to his death?
  2. Why is Holden so upset about Stradlater’s date with Jane?
  3. Does he have good reason to be worried about it?
  4. How can you tell Holden feeling very lonesome and depressed?
  5. Why is he feeling so down?
  6. Why would Holden start thinking about joining a monastery at this point?
  7. Describe how Holden feels about Mrs. Morrow.
  8. Why does he keep lying to Mrs. Morrow?

Chapters 9-12

  1. How does Holden feel about sex?
  2. Why does Holden call Faith Cavendish instead of Jane?
  3. What does Holden emphasize about Phoebe?
  4. What was so awful about Bernice, Marty, and Laverne?
  5. Describe Holden’s relationship with Jane and how he feels about her.
  6. Holden keeps asking about the ducks. What deeper significance do you think this has?
  7. Explain how the young couples and Lillian Simmons help prove Holden’s point about the place being full of jerks.
  8. What bothers Holden about Ernie’s playing?

Chapters 13-16

  1. Why does Holden think he is “yellow”?
  2. Why does Holden kind of want to have the prostitute come up to his room?
  3. Is Holden a coward in the scene when Maurice comes to get another five bucks from him? Explain your reasoning.
  4. How does Maurice demonstrate Holden’s belief that the adult world is cruel?
  5. How does Holden reveal his depression in these chapters?
  6. What is Holden saying about class and religion (Chapter 15)?
  7. How can one tell Salinger/Holden feels children are good?
  8. Why did Holden like the museum so much?

Chapters 17-19

  1. What is so fake about the people in the lobby and George from Andover?
  2. What is Holden trying to explain to Sally when they are sitting down at the skating rink?
  3. How do Holden’s feelings about Sally change throughout the date?
  4. Why do his feelings for Sally change like this?
  5. Why doesn’t Holden like the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall?
  6. How did D. B. feel about the army and the war?
  7. Explain how you can figure out what “flit” means just by using context clues.
  8. Is Holden really being childish when he’s talking to Carl Luce? Why or why not?

Chapters 20-23

  1. Holden is so lonesome and depressed that he cries in chapter 20. Can you find a few things in the chapter leading up to him crying that highlight how he is alienated and alone?
  2. After Holden looks for the ducks in Central Park, he starts thinking of Allie being dead and worrying he may be dying. Explain how these two things (the ducks and death) are connected.
  3. Can you give some evidence of Phoebe’s love and youthful innocence really lifting Holden’s spirits?
  4. What really upset Holden about Pencey?
  5. What happened to James Castle, and why would Holden be thinking about him now?
  6. Look up the real words to the Robert Burns poem “Comin thro’ the Rye.” What is it really about?
  7. What is the deeper meaning behind Holden saying he wants to be a catcher in the rye?
  8. Can you explain why Holden might have misheard the words to the Burns poem/song?

Chapters 24-26

  1. Explain the advice Mr. Antolini gives Holden.
  2. Why might Holden have reacted so strongly to Mr. Antolini patting his head?
  3. Why might Holden imagine he’s falling through the pavement?
  4. Why do the curse words on the wall bother Holden so much?
  5. How does Phoebe force Holden to act like a grown-up when she brings her bags to the museum?
  6. Why is Holden so happy watching Phoebe on the carousel?
  7. Why didn’t Holden himself ride with Phoebe? What does this show?
  8. Is Holden moving forward from his alienation and depression by the end of the novel?
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