Interview Assignment: Sample One
CT Journal # 8: Write a dialogue in which one person interviews another about Catcher in the Rye. Include at least two direct quotations from the text.
Q: What are your feelings about the style in which Catcher in the Rye was written?
A: The word I would use to describe the style of writing used in this book would be 'effective.' Many book are also written as narratives, but cannot hold a reader's attention and are not as satisfactory. The Catcher in the Rye is written in Holden Caulfied's very recognizable and very unique voice, which gives the book a distinctive mentality. I think that the use of slang and entertaining wordings does a good job of keeping a reader's attention, and keeping he or she amused.
Q: Do you think Holden's attitude is a reflection of the kind of person he is,,or do you think that it is just a front?
A: I think Holden's attitude is, at most times, negative and biased, and that this negativity is mostly a front. I think he feels he's had a hard life, and judging people sometimes makes him feel better about himself. At some points in The Catcher in the Rye, I noticed that he tries to cover up what he is really feeling. Many times, he mentions wanting to call up his old friend, Jane Gallagher, but then dismisses the idea by claiming he didn't feel like it.
"I started toying with the idea...the only reason I didn't do it was because I wasn't in the mood. If you're not in the mood, you can't do that stuff right." (63) By saying that he wasn't in the mood, I think Holden is really trying to cover up the facf that he is nervous and insecure.
Q: What are some examples of symbolism that you noticed throughout the book?
A: I noticed that Holden's red hunting cap appears pretty frequently throughout The Catcher in the Rye. The idea that came to my mind first was that the red hunting cap was somewhat of a security blanket for Holden. A hat usually helps keep someone warm, and I think that symbolically, that's just what it does for him. It keeps him feeling secure and safe in times when he is not feeling very confident. He likes it, and it seems to make him feel better about himself.
Q: What about the ducks?
A: I think the ducks also symbolize something important in the book. On page 60, Holden says, "You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over?"
After reading this passage, I think that the lake symbolizes Holden's life, and the ducks represent Holden himself. Using this analogy, Holden's life "froze over" when he got kicked out of Pencey Prep. He is confused about where to go and what to do. So when he is asking the taxi driver where the ducks go when the lake freezes over, I believe he is actually wonderina where he should go, now that there is no place for him to live.
Q: What words would you use to describe Holden Caulfield?
A: I would use three words: opinionated, hypocritical, and confused. Judging from what I've read so far, I can tell that Holden's has definite opinions about what he thinks life should be and how the world should be. A very obvious description of the main character would be hypocritical. Holden repeatedly expresses his animosity for "phonies" and at the same time, perpetrates the exact same qualities that he dislikes so much. (I think this also relates to what I was saying earlier about being insecure. When someone is insecure, they usually don't have a feel for who they are, and the feeling I get from this book is that Holden is still trying to figure out who he is.) The last word, 'confused', fits Holden because he seems to have had grown up in a pretty sheltered environment, and this sudden view of the real world (in the NYC hotel room) was very shocking to him. I don't think he wants to grow up and live in the kind of world that he sees from his window. I also don't think he wants Phoebe living in that kind of world, either.
Interview Assignment: Sample Two
Write a dialogue in which one person interviews another about The Catcher In The Rye. Include at least two direct quotations from the text.
S1: Good afternoon. How are you doing today? Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to discuss the elements of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher In The Rye.
S2: No problem; it's my pleasure.
S1: Now, for the issue that has boggled so many minds- There are three instances when Holden Caulfield mentions ducks. the first time being when he is talking to OId Spencer." He is putting much thought into where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over." (13) What is the meaning of these ducks that Holden frequently brings up in the story?
S2: There are two possibilities to this question. First off. I think that the ducks represent Holden's current situation. For the whole year. he has felt safe and secure at Pencey Prep. just as the ducks do in their home. the lagoon. But now, wintertime has come and frozen the once , familiar home of the ducks. and they are left without a place to live. Holden is experiencing the same problem- he has been kicked out of school. and has to relocate. The other explanation I have is that Holden simply has compassion for the less fortunate, or in this case, the ducks. He is worried about their well-being and how they are going to survive on their own when the winter comes.
S1: Holden is very curious as to how the ducks leave the lagoon. He wonders if "some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something," or if they `'just flew away." (13) Why do you suppose this is?
S2: I think Holden is debating over if he should take responsibility over his actions and "fly away.'' or if he should wait for someone. his parents for example, to 'pick him up" and solve his problem for him. He isn't sure if he should take the easy way out, or deal with this dilemma which he is obviously struggling with. I believe that Holden does know deep down, that the ducks do actually fly down south in the winter, yet he is searching for a different answer. He isn't sure if the ducks will be able to survive on their own, without the security of their past life. This can be directly related to Holden in that he is a duck and his parents are the people who come to pick the ducks up for the winter. He knows that he will eventually have to venture out into the world on his own. but he is not quite ready to face these fears.
S1: So you feel that Holden is having inner conflicts? He isn't sure if he should straighten himself out. and start putting his life back together, or if he should let his parents fix the mess that he once again got himself into?
S2: Exactly. This is a problem that has been haunting Holden his whole life and he is now given the chance to conquer it. After he has been kicked out of school, he goes to New York City, in order to relax and forget his problems. In reality. Holden isolates himself from everyone he knows: he brings himself into an atmosphere where he is constantly thinking, and analyzing himself. This seems to be scaring him: he is taking a closer look at himself and realizes that he needs to do something about his life.
S1: Going deeper into this topic. I would like to hear your thoughts on the fish that were brought up. When Holden catches a taxi. he asks the driver about where the ducks went, but the driver somehow brings up the fish that live in the lagoon. He seems to get quite worked up about it. telling Holden that the fish stay right where they are, they "stay right in the goddam lake.'' He goes on to say that it is 'tougher for the fish, the winter and all, than it is for the ducks." (82) Do the fish have any relationship to the ducks. and what is their significance?
S2: I believe the taxi driver is implying that Holden's problems are tiny and insignificant compared to other issues going on. The driver is relating himself to the fish and Holden to the ducks. The fish live in one place their whole lives, and never get the opportunity to leave. The ducks. on the other hand. are given the chance to lead a different. maybe better life when winter comes. Perhaps the driver has lived in New York City his whole life, and is destined to have the job as a taxi driver for the rest of his life. He knows he will never live a happier life and feels hopeless. This is why he gets angry with Holden; Holden is wasting this perfect chance that he never received.
Sl: Just from this very short discussion. it is clear that The Catcher In The Rye is a very complex book. with intriguing hidden messages. I greatly appreciate your insightful thoughts, and I hope to be able to speak to you again.