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Famous Quotes from The Catcher in the Rye with Analysis

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/20/2012

Use these famous quotes from The Catcher in the Rye to discuss the novel more intelligently and draw out the novel's major themes.

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    Quotes from The Catcher in the Rye

    Quote: "What I really felt like, though, was committing suicide. I felt like jumping out the window. I probably would've done it, too, if I'd been sure somebody'd cover me up as soon as I landed. I didn't want a bunch of stupid rubbernecks looking at me when I was all gory" (104).

    Analysis: Shortly after Holden is assaulted by Maurice, the elevator pimp, he takes a bath, goes to bed, and confesses he would have rather killed himself than go to sleep. His reason for not doing it gives the reader a glimpse into his contradictory nature. He claims he wants to be isolated, yet is overly concerned with what everybody else thinks about him. He wants to die because everybody is a "phony" yet wants to live because he doesn't want the "phonies" to judge him.

    Quote: "Real ugly girls have it tough. I feel so sorry for them sometimes" (85).

    Analysis: Holden shows another component of his personality: the ability to empathize with others' suffering. The problem, however, is that Holden assumes everybody is suffering. His feeling sorry for ugly girls also highlights the inner struggle he has with sexual attraction.

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    Quote: "It's not too bad when the sun's out, but it only comes out when it feels like coming out" (156).

    Analysis: Holden says this in reference to Allie. He feels upset that everybody can go in when it rains, but not Allie. On another level, it shows Holden's helplessness in controlling what's around him. He feels he has no control over how he feels, that things just happen.

    Quote: "What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff...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" (173).

    Analysis: Holden strives with all his might to preserve childhood innocence. What he fails to understand is that part of growing up is losing that innocence, that he's the one headed for the fall, and that there's nobody there to catch him.

    Quote: "Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right—I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game" (8).

    Analysis: Holden comments on the "game of life," considering it only a game for the privileged. The fact that Holden feels isolated and unfortunate contradicts his charmed upbringing, being the son of a very wealthy lawyer. Despite having access to a great education and immense wealth, Holden feels isolated and looks upon the rich kids at his schools as a bunch of "phonies."

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    Quote: "The trouble was, that kind of junk is sort of fascinating to watch, even if you don't want it to be" (62).

    Analysis: Holden comments on the perverts he sees while staying at the Edmont Hotel. He believes there is something wrong with what they are doing, yet feels strangely attracted. This is another instance where Holden feels helpless to control what is going on around him.

    Quote: The guy I like best in the Bible, next to Jesus, was that lunatic and all, that lived in the tombs and kept cutting himself with stones. I like him ten times as much as the disciples" (99).

    Analysis: Here we find, once again, Holden favoring the outcast as opposed to the "chosen" ones. What he fails to understand is the lunatic is eventually healed. Will Holden be?

    Feel free to share your favorite quotes from The Catcher in the Rye by clicking on the comment button at the top of the page.

References

  • Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Litle, Brown and Company, 1951.