The Finding out Network: Text to Text | ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and ‘The Situation for Delayed Adulthood’

From left, editions by Bantam Books, Hamish Hamilton, and Minor, Brown &amp Firm.Credit score

When we pick a popular passage from a classic work like “The Catcher in the Rye” for an edition of our Text to Text series, there are literally thousands of New York Occasions content articles with which we could profitably pair it. For instance, we may have chosen any of the appraisals and histories we website link to on the J.D. Salinger page we created when the author died in 2010.

But when we go through a latest write-up in the Sunday Assessment that made the situation that the existing trend of “delaying adulthood” may possibly truly be good for some youthful people, we imagined it may possibly provide complete new way to believe about the line between adolescence and adulthood — and about no matter whether, and how, “Catcher” nevertheless has anything to say to teenagers right now.

Beneath, some ideas for putting the two together, but, as constantly, we would love to hear how you educate the novel.


The author John Green on “Catcher” from his “Crash Course” series

In his obituary of J.D. Salinger, Charles McGrath writes about the original response to “Catcher,” and about its enduring energy:

However not absolutely everyone, teachers and librarians specifically, was confident what to make of it, “Catcher” grew to become an almost instant ideal vendor, and its narrator and main character, Holden Caulfield, a teenager newly expelled from prep school, grew to become America’s best-acknowledged literary truant because Huckleberry Finn.

With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “goddam”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the grownup globe, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and rapidly attained cult status, specially among the younger. Studying “Catcher” employed to be an essential rite of passage, almost as essential as acquiring your learner’s allow.

Although “The Catcher in the Rye” remains atop lists of people’s preferred books, some debate its relevance in 21st-century classrooms.

In “Get a Existence, Holden Caulfield,” Jennifer Schuessler notes, “Some critics say that if Holden is less common these days, the fault lies with our personal impatience with the notion of a lifelong quest for identity and that means that Holden represents.”

Does this novel nonetheless speak to the teens you educate? What can they learn from it about remaining delicate to and challenged by the world all around us as they develop up? How have notions of adolescence and adulthood changed given that 1951, when the novel was very first published? What are the factors for the recent trend of “delaying adulthood,” and why is every thing from “boomeranging” back property after school to the reputation of brunch witnessed as a symptom of it?

Below are some suggestions for connecting the novel to these larger cultural questions, as properly as choices for going even more to discover other factors of the guide with the support of Times and Finding out Network sources.

Essential Concerns: Is ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ nonetheless appropriate? If so, what can we discover from it about how to live today?

Exercise Sheets: As college students study and go over, they might consider notes using a single or a lot more of the 3 graphic organizers (PDFs) we have developed for our Text to Text feature:

Text 1: Excerpt from ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger

Note: We do not have the rights to excerpt the total passage we would like to use, but you can discover it in Chapter 22, in the well-known conversation amongst Holden and his sister Phoebe, when Holden talks about wanting to be the “catcher in the rye.” The passage begins with Holden saying:

“Anyway, I like it now,” I explained. “I indicate appropriate now. Sitting right here with you and just chewing the unwanted fat and horsing—”

And ends with the speech that begins this way:

“Anyway, I preserve picturing all these little kids playing some game in this huge field of rye and all. Thousands of little youngsters, and nobody’s around — no one large, I imply — except me.”

Text 2: Excerpt from ‘The Case for Delayed Adulthood’ by Laurence Steinberg

One of the most notable demographic trends of the last two decades has been the delayed entry of youthful individuals into adulthood. In accordance to a massive-scale nationwide review carried out since the late 1970s, it has taken longer for every single successive generation to finish school, set up monetary independence, marry and have children. Today’s 25-12 months-olds, compared with their parents’ generation at the exact same age, are twice as most likely to even now be college students, only half as probably to be married and 50 % a lot more most likely to be obtaining fiscal help from their parents.

Men and women tend to react to this trend in one particular of two techniques, both castigating today’s young folks for their idleness or acknowledging delayed adulthood as a rational, if regrettable, response to a assortment of social alterations, like poor work prospective customers. Either way, postponing the settled, accountable patterns of adulthood is observed as a poor issue.

This is too pessimistic. Prolonged adolescence, in the correct circumstances, is really a excellent point, for it fosters novelty-searching for and the acquisition of new skills.

Studies reveal adolescence to be a time period of heightened “plasticity” for the duration of which the brain is hugely influenced by expertise. As a outcome, adolescence is both a time of opportunity and vulnerability, a time when much is learned, specially about the social world, but when publicity to stressful events can be specifically devastating. As we leave adolescence, a series of neurochemical alterations make the brain more and more significantly less plastic and much less sensitive to environmental influences. Once we attain adulthood, current brain circuits can be tweaked, but they can not be overhauled.

You might assume that this is a strictly biological phenomenon. But whether the timing of the modify from adolescence to adulthood is genetically preprogrammed from birth or set by expertise (or some combination of the two) is not recognized. Many research uncover a marked decline in novelty-in search of as we move by means of our 20s, which might be a cause of this neurochemical shift, not just a consequence. If this is true — that a decline in novelty-looking for aids lead to the brain to harden — it raises intriguing concerns about whether the window of adolescent brain plasticity can be stored open a minor longer by deliberate exposure to stimulating experiences that signal the brain that it is not really prepared for the fixity of adulthood.

For Writing or Discussion

one. In this section of “Catcher,” Holden tells Phoebe about a “crazy” idea of who he would like to be when he grows up. What is the metaphorical cliff to which he refers? Why do the kids need to have to be saved?

two. How does the subject of Holden and Phoebe’s conversation propose, as Mr. Steinberg does, that grownups are much less plastic than youngsters and adolescents? Do lawyers have to be as rigidly defined as they are by Holden?

3. How does the writer’s declare — “As a outcome, adolescence is the two a time of opportunity and vulnerability, a time when a lot is discovered, particularly about the social globe, but when exposure to demanding events can be notably devastating” — capture Holden’s journey? What event in the novel devastates him? What does he find out about the social world as he travels all around New York?

4. In the original Occasions assessment of the novel, Nash K. Burger paints Holden Caulfield as “bewildered, lonely, ludicrous and pitiful.” He goes on to observe: “His troubles, his failings are not of his own making but of a globe that is out of joint. There is absolutely nothing wrong with him that a minor comprehending and affection, ideally from his dad and mom, couldn’t have set right. Although baffled and unsure of himself, like most sixteen-year-olds, he is observant and perceptive and filled with a specified wisdom. His minor delinquencies appear minor indeed when contrasted with grownup delinquencies with which he is confronted.” As readers, are we meant to castigate Holden for his reluctance to develop up? Or are we meant to sympathize with it as a rational response to social adjustments?

5. In what approaches can prolonged adolescence be a great issue?

six. Salinger and Mr. Steinberg are writing about two extremely various worlds — people of 1951 and right now. In your view, how has adolescence transformed? How has adulthood changed? Can you relate to Holden? How? Is studying “Catcher” nevertheless a “rite of passage”?

Going Additional

The Adolescent Brain

Check out the many resources in The Times and on the world wide web to find out about the emerging science about the adolescent brain. How does it shed light on Holden’s experiences in the novel?

Print copies of the content articles that comply with and assign them to groups of students. Then you may well engage in a Socratic Seminar in which college students use them as lenses for discussing Holden and his habits.

Adolescence By way of the Ages

This NPR piece contends that our definition of manhood is changing as America modifications. But what about adolescence? How has it altered? Are older generations impatient with the idea of a protracted coming-of-age period (wonderfully satirized right here in The Onion), or do they wish they had had this time to soul-search and learn themselves?

To investigate this thought, request college students to produce a list of interview inquiries they can pose to their mother and father, their grandparents, their peers and themselves about what it means to be an adolescent. Have them carry out and record their interviews, edit them and compile them into a podcast that examines adolescence through the ages. For examples of this kind of interviews, have college students listen to these, compiled by The Times, which we utilised as the inspiration for a lesson prepare in 2007.

Coming of Age on Movie

In a letter written to a Mr. Herbert in 1957, J.D. Salinger explains why he doesn’t want to promote the rights to his novel so that it can be made into a film. Although the total letter is no longer archived on-line, what do you make of his rationale in the excerpt? If you have been to make a film of “Catcher,” what would it look like? Who would you cast as Holden and why?

A YouTube search turned up a school-undertaking trailer, as well as a few other amateur attempts (like this 1 and this a single) to do just this. (Teachers: Be certain to preview material to make confident it is acceptable for your class.) Do they succeed? Why or why not?

Even though “Catcher” has never produced it to the large screen, movies reflect plenty of adolescent angst. This report compares Holden’s encounter in “The Catcher in the Rye” to adolescent experiences portrayed on movie, namely in a movie called “Igby Goes Down.” Observe clips from movies that portray coming-of-age experiences — from John Hughes films like “The Breakfast Club” to “Mean Girls” or “Juno” or “Superbad” — or pick one particular to observe in its entirety. What do movies have to tell us about what it means to be a teenager? What are the clichés? What do they get wrong? How have portrayals of this time period in life modified?

What do you make of newer videos this kind of as “Bridesmaids,” “The Hangover,” “Knocked Up” and the like that portray adults seemingly stuck in adolescence. Do they, as the Times film critic A.O. Scott displays, display the “death of adulthood” in American culture? Is Holden a precursor to this kind of adolescent grown-ups?

Censorship and the Novel

“The Catcher in the Rye” has been challenged since it was first published, and in this Time magazine slide demonstrate, you can study some of the motives.

Do you consider it belongs in the curriculum and on school library shelves? If so, contemplate championing “The Catcher in the Rye” and other banned books by way of our several ideas for celebrating Banned Books Week.

Helping Holden

Envision you are a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine. Is Holden merely exhibiting some of the symptoms of what some have referred to as the “temporary insanity of adolescence”? Or has his grief created into some thing else? Is he depressed? Anxious? Suffering from post-traumatic anxiety disorder? Is there proof in the novel that he is suicidal? Using Instances assets like the Health Guidebook alongside signs and symptoms you identify in the text, attempt to diagnose what is wrong with Holden.

Then, as a couple of teachers we know do, determine the sources in your college in which he may get the aid he needs. Interview these individuals — the school nurse, a social worker, a guidance counselor and/or a college psychologist, for example — to see how they would help a teenager like Holden.

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