The Poem: Comin Thro' the Rye

O, Jenny's a' weet, poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry;
She draigl't a' her petticoattie
Comin thro' the rye.
Comin thro the rye, poor body,
Comin thro the rye,
She draigl't a'her petticoatie,
Comin thro the rye!
Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,[r] Need a body cry?
Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro the glen,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need the warld ken?

Holden’s misinterpretation of the poem:

If a body catch a body comin’ through the rye…

Holden “mishears” the poem, “Comin’ Through the Rye”, causing him to interpret the poem differently than originally intended. “Holden pictures himself as the sole guardian of numerous children running and playing in a huge rye field on the edge of a cliff. His job is to catch the children if they wander close to the brink; to be a ‘catcher in the rye’.” This poem, together with Mr. Antolini’s reflection, it shows us what Holden really wants (as he says to Phoebe). He says, “that’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” This really shows us how Holden wants to protect the children from the evil of the “real world”. This is part of the reason/motivation that drives Holden throughout the whole book.

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A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

In “The Catcher and the Rye” Holden doesn’t understand how “D.B. could hate the Army and war and all so much and still like a phony like that [“A Farewell to Arms].” Holden says, “… I don’t see how he could like a phony book like that and still like that one by Ring Lardner, or that other one he’s so crazy about, The Great Gatsby.” Here, we can see that Holden thinks a person has to like one or the other. Holden isn’t a “flexible thinker”, as we can also see throughout the book. Holden doesn’t get how his brother, D.B., can hate the army but like a book about the army. To Holden, it is either you like everything about the army or you hate everything about the army. He has a black and white view. He thinks thinking “grey” is being phony.

Summary of the book

“Frederic Henry is an American serving as a Lieutenant of an ambulance division in the Italian Army… Through his friend … he meets a British nurses' aide named Catherine … Fred is immediately smitten with Catherine and he spends a lot of time courting her … As the snows clear, it is time for the offensive to begin again, and Fred goes with his three ambulances to a post in the mountains. During the first night here, there is a bombardment and Fred is seriously wounded in the legs … Fred is not expected by the hospital in Milan, but they receive him anyway. Catherine comes with her friend, Miss Ferguson, to work at this hospital and be close to him… Before long, Fred is walking on crutches and going to restaurants with Catherine. She works the night shift so they can be together at night … Catherine confesses to him that she has become pregnant; Fred is not upset with her, only worried. Before he is to return to the front, they spend a night together in a hotel. He leaves on a train in the middle of the night to return to Gorizia … [Towards the end of the book] Together, Catherine and Fred stay in a remote mountain town called Montreux. They spend all of their time together reading, hiking, and talking. Catherine's pregnancy has matured and when the spring comes they move into a larger town. When Catherine goes into labor, they rush to the hospital. Even though it is early in the morning when they arrive, Catherine still hasn't delivered the baby by noon. The doctor suggests a caesarian. The operation seems to go well, but Fred soon finds out that Catherine has hemorrhaged and that the child was born dead, choked by its own umbilical cord. Soon after this, Catherine dies from repeated hemorrhaging.”
Salinger included this book in “The Catcher in the Rye” because it is a war story and the story is a little phony (when you see it from Holden’s point of view). D.B., Holden’s older brother was in the army, which started the whole talk of war in “The Catcher in the Rye”.

In this website,, we can see the relationship between Salinger and Hemingway.

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Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

This book is mentioned in the story because it shows us an example of a classic book which Holden likes. Seeing that Holden likes this book we can guess that this book is not phony. Return of the Native is also mentioned when Holden talks with the nuns. He wonders what nuns feels about the “sexy stuff” such as Eustacia Vye in the book who “wasn’t too sexy or anything…can’t help wondering what a nun maybe thinks about when she reads about old Eustacia.”

Summary of the book

The Return of the Native is about Eustacia Vye, a beautiful 19 year old girl who wants to be loved to madness by a man who is worthy of her, Damon Wildeve, a former civil engineer now an owner of an inn, Thomasin Yeobrightk, the sweet and simple, and Diggory Venn, the heath reddleman. At the beginning Eustacia and Damon is in love with each other. However, Damon engages with Thomasin. Their engagement is discovered to be invalid on their wedding day.
Thomasin’s aunt tries to make Damon marry Thomasin so she does not get publicly disgraced. Diggory Venn also promises to help the two get married, however he secretly tells Thomasin’s aunt that he loves her. Still, he is determined to make the woman he love marry whom she loves, Damon.
Meanwhile, Doman proposed to Eustacia but she rejects him and instead now sets her sights on Clym Yeobright, Thomasin’s cousin and her former sweetheart.
Eustacia, to make sure Clym doesn’t fall for Thomasin again, she helps the others make Thomasin and Damon marries. They do. Although now Clym and Eustacia are now together, after some conflicts they separate. After the separation Eustacia meets up with Damon, who agrees to help Eustacia escape from the heath. Doman plans on eloping with Eustacia with the large ingeritence he received. Thomasin finds out Damon’s plans and tells Clym, so he can stop them. Thomasin then goes to Venn to ask him to take her to Clym and Doman. When the two arrive they discover Eustacia fallen into the weir and sees Clym and Damon trying to save her. Venn jumps in to help and drags in Clym's, Wildeve's, and Eustacia's bodies. Only Clym is revived; Eustacia and Wildeve are dead. One year after this incident, Diggory Venn calls on Thomasin and Clym. Venn proves his love for Thomasin and he proposes, which she accepts. Clym ends up being alone but he is content with his life. He finds his vocation as a wandering preacher.

Salinger might have included the story in the book because this book is what Holden claims to like. Also, it shows us the things of what Holden thinks of. Holden feels quite uncomfortable when talking of “sexy stuff” in literature with the nuns. This again shows us how Holden thinks that a person should like one things or another, and cannot have middle feelings about anything.

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Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

A quick summary of one of the most well known romantic tragedies. The story revolves around Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, who are two young individuals from the two opposite houses; Montague and Capulet. The book begins with a small argument between several Montagues and Capulets, and as it escalates and turns into a major fight in the center of Verona, the Prince and his guards enters, warning the people what will happen if another fight occurs ever again. Later that night, Romeo and Juliet meet during a party at the Capulets, and after sharing a few words they bond and love takes over. Later after their meeting they encounter in the Capulet's orchard, and plan to be married the next morning. Their union is made, but soon ruined, as Romeo slays Tybalt, and is banished from Verona. After he leaves, Juliet learns she is to marry Paris (as no one around them knew they were married). She is devestated, and her and the Friar form a plan. But, as in a classic tragedy, everything goes wrong, and they both end up killing themselves. (
Romeo and Juliet: Holden speaks with the nuns and they mention Romeo and Juliet and how it’s a great work of art. Holden finds the situation quite uncomfortable as he dislikes that nuns are talking to him about such a novel. The book is a tragic love story; a forbidden love between two individuals, Romeo and Juliet, that come from very different families. Holden has always wanted to be with Jane and now he has finally lost almost all possibility to be together with her (leaving Pencey all), and tries to fill that empty space with other people but it doesn’t work out. Romeo gets kicked out of Verona like Holden got kicked out of Pencey (just for different reasons), and so they both become empty and don’t exactly know what to do. Salinger used Romeo and Juliet to emphasize the love in this story and how Holden depends on it; he needs people to care for and listen to him. This other source allows us to see a bit further past Holden’s dark and depressed life and see him like more of a human due to his dependence of others.

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Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

Is mentioned by Holden because he is reading it by mistake. He was supposed to get a history book but was instead given this. He really enjoyed the book, enough to make him want to call the author and talk about it. He also reread some parts of it because they interested him so much. This is related to the story because it shows us what Holden likes and dislikes, shows us more of his personality.

Isak Dinesen is a pseudonym used by Danish Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke. She was born in 1885 and died in 1962 in Denmark. Her book “Out of Africa” was written while she lived in Kenya with her husband (who was also her cousin) and ran a coffee plantation. She has published only one novel, and used another pseudonym for it. Mostly she wrote tales in English and Danish.

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Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maughm

Is a book that was also good in Holden’s opinion, but not good enough to want the author as your friend. Besides Holden’s book preferences, this information doesn’t really tell us anything about other characters.

Somerset Maughm is a British novelist, play writer, editor, author of short fiction and more. He has received many awards for his works. Of Human Bondage is partly a novel and partly the author’s autobiography. It is considered his greatest work. There are three movie versions of the book.

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Rupert Brooke

Rupert Brooke is mentioned as a good writer of war poems. This is related to the story because it is a memory of Allie, Holden, and D.B., when they used to spend time together. “… I remember Allie once asked him [D.B.] wasn’t it sort of good that he was in the war because he was a writer and it gave him a lot to write about and all. (…) then he [D.B.] asked him [Allie] who was the best war poet, Rupert Brooke or Emily Dickinson.” He was an English poet/writer. He was born in 1887 and died in 1915. He also received an award from Cambridge.|RN1480002677&&docId=GALE|RN1480002677&docType=GALE&role=LitRC|H1000065294&&docId=GALE|H1000065294&docType=GALE&role=LitRC|H1000012470&&docId=GALE|H1000012470&docType=GALE&role=LitRC