Honors Discussion: A Catcher in the Rye

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Honors Discussion: A Catcher in the Rye

Post  Admin on Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:09 pm

Respond to some or all of the following (or questions/prompts of your own):

What was your response to our first honors discussion? Was your experience with the book broadened? What did you learn? What specific things do you remember? What are your general thoughts? What should we think about changing for our next discussion? Final reflections on Holden? Anything you thought of after that you wish you would have said? Anything you didn't get a chance to say?

Responses should be between 300 and 600 words. Due November 2, 2012

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Honors Discussion

Post  Kathy N. on Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:09 pm

I enjoyed our discussion Thursday and Friday. It was interesting to hear everyone’s point of view on Holden and his relationship with Phoebe. When I was first reading the book I didn’t think much of their relationship. I mean he always talked about her, but I didn’t put the pieces together. It turned out that their relationship was one of the main points of the book which I realized while talking with all of you. It was also neat to hear about how people thought of Holden. Some people absolutely HATED him, I think were the exact words of Tommy, and other people just didn’t mind him. I think most people’s opinions on Holden changed by the end of our discussion, at least mine did. I didn’t hate him at the beginning but I felt he could be annoying at times. After discussing it more I realize why he is the way he is. First of all, he still blames himself for the death of Allie, which is not something easy to deal with. Secondly, he keeps everything inside. He doesn’t usually let things out and when he does let things out it’s like a breakdown because everything has been all kept inside him for so long. So my opinion of Holden has definitely changed. Another thing, I now feel looking back on the situation with Allie definitely had something to do with him staying and not leaving Phoebe. On pg. 206 and 207, Holden is going to leave and Phoebe wants to go with him but Holden won’t let her. Holden finally decides he won’t go because Phoebe doesn’t want him to. I think Holden felt that if he said no, like he did to Allie that one time that he still blames Allies’ death for, he would have been doing the same thing to Phoebe that he did to Allie. I think in a way by Holden staying he was making up for saying no to Allie. Over all, at first I didn’t think this was such a great book like everyone says, but after everything we discussed my mind has been changed.
Kathy M. Nowak

Kathy N.
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Re: Honors Discussion: A Catcher in the Rye

Post  Sophie N on Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:20 pm

Like Kathy said, I enjoyed our discussion on Thursday and Friday. I was one of the ones who absolutely HATED the book. At first I thought Holden was just some stupid teenage slacker like most of us want to be, but at the same time don't. I mean we all have days, or classes or assignments where we just don't feel like doing anything, we feel like whatever we're supposed to be doing is a waste of time and all that, and we still go to school, and do our homework... for the most part. At first I thought that Holden just felt that way about everything and didn't actually do it... not like he actively refused to do it, he just didn't. This was why I hated the book, because I felt like it was just a book about everyday life, and what would happen to you if you just didn't do your work. I also didn't approach the book with a good attitude, once I established the fact that I didn't like Holden I didn't really try to understand the deeper message more like I read it because I knew I had to finish it... I thought that it was a waste of my time, but I did it anyways, unlike Holden, or my understanding of him.
The discussion however, completely changed how I saw the book. When I read it I didn't think that the part about his little brother was really big enough in terms of how much of the book if took up to be that important. Now, I understand that it was Allie's death that made Holden the way he is. Holden blames himself for Allie's death and for not taking advantage of every moment he had with him. He wants to make sure that he doesn't make the same mistake with his sister.
When I read it I gathered that Phoebe was the only person he actually liked, other than Jane, and that she was pretty important to him, although most of what we learn about Phoebe is from his perspective when she is not actually present at that time in the book. Now, I realize how important the parts are in the book when Holden is talking to another person, especially Phoebe because he really only tells us that she is abnormally mature for her age and really smart about a million times, but when we actually get to hear their conversations and when she is active and present in the scene we really know how she is able to be the kid and the adult to Holden, at the same time.
I think it was easier to connect with Holden when we were speculating about his relationship with Allie based off of his relationship with Phoebe. It makes me realize that as an older sibling and just in general, it is easy to sometimes get just a little jealous of someone, especially when they seem like the ideal kid and that feeling sometimes gets brought out especially as a teenager than the side that really loves and treasures your sibling's many gifts. I think that this is why he blames himself for Allie's death, and why he loves Phoebe so much.
The conversation really helped me to understand Holden a bit more, and he doesn't seem like a bad kid, he seems normal except that he is trying to deal with an experience and emotion that is really tragic to him. Most of the time when we talk to people we don't poor out all of our heart's problems or anything like that, but every now and then it helps to talk to someone you trust about something that is really bothering you. I feel like that is what Holden does, but he is trying to deal with so many things that are bothering him that it is too hard for him to manage it.
Over all I liked the discussion because it made me understand so much more about the book, and I don't hate it anymore... but, don't get me wrong, I don't love it either.

Sophie N
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HONORS DISCUSSION

Post  Tommy J. on Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:07 pm

I really enjoyed our discussion. I think it was really beneficial in helping us all understand A Cather in the Rye a lot better. We made connections to things together that we might not have noticed on our on. Like when we realized that Phoebe is kind of like a parental figure to Holden, and that Holden may have been a lot more affected by his brother's death than we originally realized. After the discussion, I an still not a huge fan of Holden, however I have learned not to hate him, and understand him a whole lot better.
Based on the discussion alone, I do not feel like anymore or any less needed to be said. I think the discussion went perfectly, however I do feel like the amount someone speaks does not matter so long as they are involved in the discussion. I think we covered as much we could have possibly covered in a ninety-eight minute span, or the span of two lunch periods. There are not many specific things I solidly remember about the discussion, except for Jane talking about Phoebe, and Calvin's initial response to the book. I also remember part of what Henry said when we went around the room giving our final insight on Holden, I remember agreeing with what he said exactly.
The final thing I have to say is that I feel like my experience with the book was broadened, and I understand the book a lot better. I skimmed through it again post-discussion, and my reading/thinking gears clicked a whole bunch better than they did the first time I read the book, and I feel like digging as deep as we did in the discussion helped that. I feel like it was a good experience to read this book, and have thoroughly enjoyed being in the Honors English Community this first trimester. I will say as a final statement that I am glad I no longer have to listen to Holden Caulfield's negativity on a daily basis, but once again feel privileged to have had the experience of reading the book.

Tommy Johnson

Tommy J.
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Re: Honors Discussion: A Catcher in the Rye

Post  Renée B on Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:55 pm

I also really enjoyed the discussion. I thought everyone made great comments and I really enjoyed hearing people's different opinions. I was excited about reading Catcher in the Rye because I had heard so much about the book. I was a little unsure going into it because the language was not what I was used too. After I got through that I was able to really enjoy Holden. The different perspective I thought was interesting, getting to hear Holden in such a different light was very eye opening. I saw an entirely new side to him, one that I had not considered. The side that a normal person who was not in his head would see. The picture that his actions portrayed, not his thoughts. A slacker who doesn't care what most people think but is very polite.
The relationship between Holden and his sister is much deeper than I first thought. I had not thought of Phoebe being the adult in the relationship. I thought that was very intersting and it made me look for other parts or people in the book where it looks like Holden is in control, but was very dependent on somebody or somethings else. Something that I thought was interesting to contemplate was what Holden might think of me. Would he think I was a phony? I wonder about three out of the four protagonists of our books, what they would think of me. Gene being the fourth, I don’t think he would care very much.
I really enjoyed hearing everybody else thoughts on the book, and we should have more discussions. I think it is very beneficial to me, and probably others, to hear different views of the story. I think the information that I got from this discussion will help me when it comes to writing about Holden. It really helped complete my ideas about the book.

Renée B
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Catcher in the Rye Post

Post  Alex B. on Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:50 pm

Alexandria Blake
English
Jester
Period 6
10-30-12

I really enjoyed our first honors discussion. It was nice to hear other peoples view on the book. It made me see many more important details I did not see while reading the novel. Even though this book was greatly written it was not very enjoyable for me. To me there did not seem to have a really thought though plot or a very exciting climax. I would have found it more interesting if it included more action and cliff hangers.
Even though I did not enjoy the book there are many parts of the book that I distinctly remember. One of my memories of the book is when Holden went to see his old history teacher, Mr. Spencer. Mr. Spencer decided to read Holden the paper that caused him to flunk his history class. This is one of my favourite memories from the book because I found Holden’s paper entertaining. In the book it say that Holden ended his paper by saying, “That was all I know about the Egyptians. I can’t seem to get very interested in them although your lectures are very interesting. It is all right if you flunk me though as I am flunking everything else except English anyway” (P. 12, Salinger J.D.). This intrigued me because he told the teacher to flunk him. It shows how Holden’s characters did not have any ambition and did not care about his grades. One other memory I have of the book is when Holden went to Mr. Antolini house. Holden fell asleep on Mr. Antolini’s couch, and when he woke up then Mr. Antolini was seating on the floor and patting Holden’s head. This stuck out to me because it was one of the moments in the book when Holden was not the strangest person in the room. Also the description was so well written you can see both of the character in the scene while having the same feeling Holden had at this moment in the story.
Thought out the book I always hated Holden’s character. His way of living from staying in his room to not caring about his grade just agitated me. Although after our discussion my feelings about Holden changed. Afterward I began to see why Holden’s character acted the way he did. Yet I still found him quiet annoying Holden’s character then became more tolerable.
For our future discussions I feel we should go outside. It is more relaxing to me to be outdoors instead of being in the same scenery every time. After our discussion I was glad I said what I did and let the other talk. I felt I helped the discussion keep going but everyone else’s topics were definitely not something I thought about. What they brought up helped me see more depth to the novels story.

Alex B.
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Catcher In the Rye Post

Post  Calvin L on Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:23 pm

I thought that our honors discussion went really well. We covered a lot of the book and everybody got a chance to speak at some point in the discussion. Before the discussion I didn't really think of his brothers death as that significant to the book but I see now that it actually played a large role in what Holden did and thought. I was also surprised to find that some people actually hated Holden and couldn't stand him because he really did care about everyone that he came across in the story. One of the things I learned as well was that apparently before his brother died, holden had denied his brothers request to go play with him which is pretty important to the story. When we talked about Holden being the Catcher In The Rye I felt that we really went in depth and the discussion picked up a lot. Overall, I really enjoyed the discussion and would be glad to do it again and discuss the next book we have to read for English Honors. There isnt really anything I want to change about the discussion, I felt that it went smoothly and that it was good as it is. It really helped me see Holden as an even more troubled individual when I realized that his borthers death affected him so hard. Holden didn't really change much for me after the discussion though, he still seems the same as when I read the story for the first time. And as for the last thing, I got to say everything I wanted to and there wasn't anything that I later wanted to add to the discussion but never got the chance to.

Calvin L
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Honors Discussion

Post  Jane W on Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:06 pm

Yes, like everyone else I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions we had, and am looking forward to the one that we will have for the next book. I think that these discussions are beneficial to everybody, and really enhance our experience with the book. Unlike some people, I was one of the ones who had liked the book from the very beginning, so I had I little bit of a different experience than others. It was interesting listening to everyone else’s opinion of the book, and their opinion of Holden. I was surprised so many people highly disliked him, and even hated him. Because of this we went into the discussion with very different attitudes going into the discussion, I knew that I liked Holden’s “realness” as character, and in general the plot of the book. I also thought I had the whole book figured out, and that the book was just about an adolescent’s struggle in life. However, after the discussion I opened my eyes to the possibilities of a deeper meaning to Holden that I never thought he contained. For example, without everyone contributions to the conversation I would not have realized the significance of Holden’s brother’s death to the book, which I, the first time around, hardly thought anything of. In addition, I would have never realized the importance of the difference between the way Holden portrays himself in thought, and how he talks and presents himself to others. Next discussion I would enjoy having our seats back into the circle that we had the first day, because I felt like it was a more open environment, and easier to talk during it. Other than that, I thought that the discussion was a great success, and I cannot wait for the next one.
~Jane Williford

Jane W
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Oddly enough my complete and truthful opinion.

Post  Rachel D on Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:36 pm

I found the discussion a unique opportunity to not only hear others opinions but change my own. Catcher in the Rye was for me a very irritating book; I was more judgmental and disparaging of the characters than I normally am with mast books. On the other hand, I really enjoyed hearing the opinions of others; in a way it allowed me to see the book with a more open mind. I have always enjoyed stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing his or her point of view, but I have always had to see something of myself in them. So with Holden my method proved useless. When I wright a creative story my main character always ends up being either a projection of myself or a projection of what I am not, and event hen there is a small seemingly insignificant detail that allows me to wright their full and completely truthful feelings. Plus when I read a book I search for that same connection, I found this hard to reach with Holden. Nevertheless, it became easier during the honored discussion, weather its random or because I was able to see the point of view of those around me I don’t know, but it helped. I wouldn’t change anything about the discussion except maybe me thinking less and actually speaking my mind, but other wise it was great.

Rachel D
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Post on book discussion

Post  Sadie CC on Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:55 pm

The discussion was helpful and interesting to me. Before this The Catcher in the Rye was a good book, not really anything more or less. I vaguely wondered how this particular book got such fame and what exactly Holden was doing and why. This last part was one we extensively discussed. I now think that one of the under currents in the story was the death of Allie, Holden’s little brother. I also realized how little Holden was letting out and how much his relation ship with Phoebe mattered.
Allie was smart and kind and died before the story took place. Holden blames himself for Allie's death. He feels guilty about the time he refused Allie's request and journeys back to New York so he can be the kind of big brother to Phoebe that he thinks he wasn't to Allie. Holden wants to protect Phoebe, keep her safe and help save her innocence. He goes to great lengths to keep her from being mad at him and when she is, he promises to come back home for her and for once, actually keeps his promise. At the same time Phoebe is protecting Holden. She protects him from their parents and more importantly, she is trying to protect him from the choices he makes. Holden will do almost anything to save his sister and she will do almost anything to save him.
I never noticed the difference between what Holden thinks and what he says. Now that we've discussed it, it seems obvious that he has a filter over his brain, one strongly influenced by his brothers death. He says polite, or at least nonthreatening stuff most of the time. However I noticed that sometimes his filter breaks down and he says exactly what he thinks. Mostly this results in people drawing away from him, except for Phoebe, who tries to understand. This filter means almost everything he sees, he sees in a bitter light. I can't help but sympathize with Holden, despite all of his nasty thoughts.
The discussion on Thursday and Friday helped me understand the book better. I understood the effect the death of Allie had on Holden, as well as the importance of the relationship Holden has with his little sister and the filter he uses to not let out what he thinks. I now realize how this strange and subtle book could become a classic and why we read it at all.

Sadie CC
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Honors Discussion

Post  Ben P. on Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:47 pm

I think the first honors discussion was very successful. I learned a lot from it that I probably with have never thought of. Everyone had a chance to say something and be apart of the group. Something that was hard for me was knowing how much I should talk during the discussions. I didn't know whether to talk more or to talk less. Now that we are finished with this discussion I will be more prepared for the next one. I actually think that everyone brought up at least one good point. My favorite one is about how Holden's brother dying impacted him. If it weren't for the person who brought this up I would have never thought about the death of Holden's brother at all. I was happy that it became such a big topic for the discussion because I think it helped me understand the book a whole lot better.
The discussion also reminded me how important Phoebe's role is in Holden's life. He lives a life with no innocence. He walks around with sorrow. He knows how hard life is but he still has Phoebe to bring back innocence and push him to live a better life. It also reminded me of the book outsiders. It's about a boy named Ponyboy who lives in a poor part of this town and lives a rough life. A lot of the people steal and do bad things including his brothers. At the end of the book it talks about Ponyboy having to keep his innocence to have a good life.
I think next discussion we should stick to the fish bowl. It is easier because you can speak with whatever you want. I think it would also be cool to have a debate though. We could come up with topics from the book and people could takes sides on it. I don't really care if its formal or informal either way it would still be a lot of fun. I think doing this we could really get in depth with the book too.

Ben P.
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HONORS DISCUSSION

Post  jbeeson3 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:58 pm

I think our honors discussion went really well. Im pretty sure everyone one got all their comments about the book in, and it was very interesting to hear what everyone thought about it. I thought it was funny how it was completely half and half on if you liked Holden or not. There was no one in the middle, you either liked him or hated him. At first, going into the discussion, I liked Holden, I thought he tried to be a nice guy, but still thought he was smarter than everyone so it was hard. I also did not think his younger brother dying had a big role in his actions until we actually discussed it. After discussing it, my thoughts about Holden changed. The main reason he acted the way he did was because of his brother. It is very hard to lose someone in your family, especially if they were close to you, but eventually you have to let it go and realize they are gone. Also I do not think that his brother dying is an excuse for how he acts. Just because something happens to you does not mean you can treat everyone like they are below you. I think it would be easier to get everyones voice in better if we went around the room at first giving our thoughts about the book we read, like we did at the end of the second discussion. I think that would make the stress of trying to get your voice in to get the discussion points go down. In all I think this was a very good discussion, we looked at the book with a lot of depth, and analyized Holden from every angle we could. I am looking forward to reading out next honors book, and our next discussion.

jbeeson3
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Honors Discusion Response

Post  Henry L. on Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:47 pm

I was very interested to hear other peoples' ideas about A Catcher in the Rye and about Holden. I think that I learned quite a bit, for example if I had not been told that Holden was a mental case, then I would not have realized it. Although he is really cynical and rude to people in his mind, that's not really what he says to people. If we didn't have that insight into his head, then he would seem to me like a pretty nice guy. Another thing that surprised me was that people thought that his brother's death played a big part in the way he acted. Before the discussion I had known that he was really sad about his brother dieing and all, but it really surprised me how oblivious I was to the scale in which it still affected him. I suppose that I would feel the same way it I were in his situation but since he rarely mentions it in the book, I believed that it wasn't all that important. As I first read the book, I thought that Holden was just a regular guy who was just a bit odd and did a lot of really funny and dumb stuff. I believed that the book was just supposed to be sort of comical. But as I read on and participated in the Honors discussion, I realized that it was much deeper than that. I realized how all the things in Holden's life affected him and how he reacted to them. The discussion helped me a lot with this. Although I didn't get a chance to speak much in the discussion, I'm glad that I went because it really helped me understand the book more. I wish I had said more in it but there were a few people who always beat me to saying what I wanted to, however, I still look for ward to our next Honors discussion.

Henry L.
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Re: Honors Discussion: A Catcher in the Rye

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