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Catcher in the Rye

Final Essay – due Friday, Oct. 3
to (via the Moodle) by 10 PM.
Please choose one of the following prompts and write a multi-paragraph essay in response. Your
answer should be thoughtful and supported by multiple examples from the text. Use MLA
formatting for the essay, including any citations. The rubric, based on the Six Traits of Writing,
is a separate document on the Moodle/class calendar. Your paper should be 750-1000 words
long, not including citations.
This is an 80-point summative grade.

1. To what extent (this means that you should present both a main argument and a
counterargument) has Holden transitioned from adolescence to adulthood in the
course of the novel? Consider, among other factors: his relationship with his peers,
family members, and other adults, his decision-making ability, and his view of his
responsibilities and of the world.

2. Are Holden and his problems still relevant to today‟s teenagers? Are the conflicts,
both internal and relationship-based, still experienced by teenagers today? Pick one
conflict or issue in the book and compare Holden‟s experience to a more modern
example or examples. Papers responding to this prompt will require evidence from
the book and also from (research-based) outside sources.

a. Yes
b. Yes
c. Holden‟s persona created from lies and deceit has taken over his life.
i. “„Oh, how lovely! Perhaps you know my son, then, Ernest Morrow?
He goes to Pency.‟

„Yes, I do. He‟s in my class.‟

Her son was doubtless the biggest bastard that ever went to Pency, in
the whole crumby history of the school. He was always going down
the corridor, after he‟d had a shower, snapping his soggy old wet towel
at people‟s asses. That‟s exactly the kind of guy he was.

„Oh, how nice!‟ the lady said. But not corny. She was just nice and all.
“I must tell Ernest we met,” she said. „May I ask your name, dear?‟

„Rudolf Schmidt,‟ I told her. I didn‟t feel like giving her my whole life
history. Rudolf Schmidt was the name of the janitor of our dorm.”
(Salinger 54)
1. Holden has no reason to lie here, but he does anyways. It‟s not
like he‟s running away from the school. He lies because he
doesn‟t “feel” like telling the truth.
ii. “Then I started reading this timetable I had in my pocket. Just to stop
lying. Once I get started, I can go on for hours if I feel like it. No
kidding. Hours.” (Salinger 58)
1. Holden admits that he can‟t stop lying when he starts,
illustrating that he cannot control his persona created from his
lies and deceit.
2. Holden calls the adults phony, but there‟s nothing preventing
children from being phony either. Holden is probably the
biggest phony in the book The Catcher in the Rye.
iii. To many teenagers, lying seems to be the easy way to get out of
trouble or to get to do some adventure that has been disallowed.
iv. The "easy way out" turns out to be extremely expensive, particularly
for teenagers who have gotten so deeply into lying that they feel
trapped in a world of dishonesty, a world of their own fabrication.
v. Liars have to remember two versions of reality: what they actually did
(the truth of what happened) and the lie they told about what they did
(the falsehood they created.) Keeping this distinction clear proves
twice as complicated as telling the truth. Liars have to manage double
vi. What begins as lying to others ends up as lying to themselves as liars
lose track of what really happened and come to believe some of the
untruths they have told.
vii. To avoid questions and to keep from being found out, liars distance
themselves from those to whom the lies were told. They become
isolated from family and friends they have deliberately misled. Liars
cut off closeness to those they care about and love.

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