In this NPR interview, the co-author of a 2013 biography of Salinger discusses the role of World War II in Salinger’s work and his fear of how his novel would be perceived. The interview provides insight into Salinger’s mental state as he was writing The Catcher in the Rye as well as information about the novel’s critical reception.
Solomon, Andrew. “Depression, the Secret We Share”
In this TED Talk, writer Andrew Solomon talks about his journey to understand depression after suffering from it himself. He describes depression as a feeling that “everything there was to do seemed like too much work,” a perspective that helps shed light onto Holden’s depression and apathy throughout the novel.
This article explains the strict gender roles that existed in the 1950s. It also discusses the role popular TV shows played in spreading set ideas about men’s and women’s places both in the world and at home. This piece helps to clarify why Holden hates movies, and it also provides insight into what’s at stake for him in his rebellion against Hollywood.
This clip from a PBS series discusses the stifling, rule-bound atmosphere of 1950s America. Understanding the expectations adults had of children and adolescents during that time can help a contemporary reader understand the full extent of Holden’s rebellion.
Barron, James. Taking a Walk through J. D. Salinger’s New York
Experts plotted Holden’s perambulations through New York City onto an interactive map. They discuss how they located certain fictional locations like the Edmont Hotel as well as where the ducks really go in the winter.
Mydans, Seth.“In a Small Town, a Battle over a Book”
This 1989 New York Times article chronicles the story of a California high school teacher who was banned from teaching The Catcher in the Rye, which remains one of the most frequently banned books in schools and school libraries across the country.
After Salinger’s death in 2010, three critics at Slate gathered to discuss whether The Catcher in the Rye, one of the most popular novels of the modern era, has a future with adolescent readers. “Is Catcher a phony?” they ask. “Or does the novel have lasting value?”