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Definition: Catcher in the Rye, The from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Novel by US writer J D Salinger, published in 1951, about a young man growing up and his fight to maintain his integrity in a ‘phoney’ adult world; it has become an international classic.

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Catcher in the Rye Guide


Summary Article: Catcher in the Rye, The
from Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable

The first novel (1951) by J. D. Salinger (b.1919), about a mixed-up teenager called Holden Caulfield. The character first appeared in a story published in the New Yorker in 1946, in which year Salinger withdrew an earlier version of the book. The title of this Campus classic is alluded to in ch xxii, when Holden's younger sister goads him into naming 'something you'd like to be'. It transpires that he has misread the line in the song by Robert Burns (1759-96), 'Gin a body meet a body/Comin thro' the rye', as 'catch a body':

 'I keep picturing all these little kids playing some
 game in this big field of rye. ... And I'm standing on
 the edge of some crazy cliff. ... I have to catch
 everybody if they start to go over the cliff. ... I'd just
 be the catcher in the rye. I know it's crazy.'

Copyright © Cassell / The Orion Publishing Group Ltd 2000, 2009

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