The Catcher in the Rye: Chapters 1-5

Contributor: Melissa Kowalski. Lesson ID: 12223

Being a teenager can be rough; no one understands you, right? Being a writer can be rough; would you spend 10 years on a novel? Meet Holden Caulfield from the 1950s and see if you identify with him!


Literary Studies

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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author portrait on the first-edition book jacket for The Catcher in the Rye

  • Do you know who this author is?
  • Does he look like he would understand the life of a modern-day teenager or any teenager?

J.D. Salinger is the author pictured above.

He published The Catcher in the Rye in 1951 after working on the novel for a decade. It was Salinger's only published novel.

The novel follows the exploits of sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield as he experiences the trials and tribulations of a mid-twentieth-century teenager.

Explore this Timeline of Major Events in JD Salinger's life to learn more. Choose five to seven events to record in your notebook and explain how they affected Salinger's development as an author.

Although Salinger worked on Catcher for a decade before publishing the finished novel, he published various short stories, including "Holden Caulfield," before the novel's release in 1951.

Learn more about the novel's development with this Infographic: The Path to The Catcher in the Rye.

Then, answer the following questions.

  • Why do you think Salinger worked on the novel for ten years?
  • Why do you think Salinger published short stories including the character of Holden Caulfield before publishing the novel?
  • Could you work on a novel for ten years to complete it? Why or why not?

Now that you know more about the lengthy journey The Catcher in the Rye took to publication, you are ready to start reading the novel.

It would be best to obtain a print copy of the novel, which you can find in a local bookstore or library.

However, if you simply do not have access, you may use this online version of The Catcher in the Rye. It is important to note that this novel will be under copyright protection until 2080, so copies of the complete text are only permitted for educational purposes.

For this lesson, read Chapters 1 through 5. As you read, take notes on the events in Holden Caulfield's day and the emotions he experiences in conjunction with these events.

Identify as many events as you can because you will use this list to help you create your timeline of the novel later in this lesson.

Once you've finished reading Chapters 1 through 5, move to the Got It? section to explore the material in these chapters.

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