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Free Study Guide for The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger|
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HUMOR IN THE NOVEL
The Catcher in the Rye is a depressing and gloomy book, there is also humor
to be found in it. Much of the humor derives from the ridiculous situations that
Holden finds himself in, especially when he interacts with strangers. Some of
the lighter moments, however, border on ‘black humor’, a device often employed
by writers to expose the absurdity of human existence. The perfect example of
black humor is found in the men who were cursing as they unloaded the Christmas
tree, even taking Christ’s name in vain. Holden recognizes the pathetic nature
of the scene when he sarcastically says, "It certainly was a gorgeous way
to talk about a Christmas tree." Such phrases and other special use of language
add more humor to the story; and the reader is often forced to laugh at Holden’s
frank, misguided, opinions.
STUDY QUESTIONS / BOOK REPORT IDEAS - TOPICS
1. Would you define Holden Caulfield as the modern day tragic hero?
Explain with examples from the text.
2. Discuss the relationship of Holden and Phoebe and show how Phoebe
is the more realistic of the two.
3. Explain from where the title of the novel comes and what it
4. Explain five of the defeats that Holden endures in the course
of the novel.
5. Show how the city of New York attains a character of its own.
6. How is the novel "framed" by the first and last chapter?
How does the frame affect the plot?
7. What is your understanding of the word "phony" from
the reading of the text.
8. Do you consider Holden an atheist? Explain with sufficient examples
from the text.
9. Do you agree with the view that Holden has a latent death wish?
10. Comment on the language and style of the novel The Catcher
in the Rye?
11. Why is it impossible for Holden to make contact especially
in a physical\sexual form?
12. Discuss the thematic concerns of the novel and show their relation
to the time in which the book was published.
13. Who would you judge to be the least phony character in the
book and why?
14. Who would you judge to be the most phony character in the book
15. What is the point of view in the novel and how does it affect
the mood and the plot?
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Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger - Free BookNotes Online Book Summary