Monthly Archives: January 2011

People never notice anything. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye


The Catcher is the most famous novel by J.D. Salinger. But, what does it mean? Why is the book so controversial?  These questions seem to be a bit much to start the year.  Beside the fact that we have two books and given that we are seldom lacking of what to share about our reading, I really liked the way the Perk questions were preceded by quotes so thank you for indulging the Discussion questions for this month.  See you soon.

Catcher in the Rye Questions Discussion

  • What is important about the title?
  • What are the conflicts in The Catcher in the Rye? What types of conflict (physical,moral, intellectual, or emotional) are in this novel?
  • How does J.D. Salinger reveal character in The Catcher in the Rye?
  • What are some themes in the story? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • What are some symbols in The Catcher in the Rye? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • Is Holden consistent in his actions? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why?
  • Do you find the characters likable? Would you want to meet the characters?
  • Does the novel end the way you expected? How? Why?
  • What is the central/primary purpose of the story? Is the purpose important or meaningful?
  • How does this novel relate to other coming-of-age novels? How does The Catcher in the Rye compare against Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
  • Is Holden a strong character?
  • How essential is the setting to the story? Could the story have taken place anywhere else? In any other time?
  • What is the role of women in the text? Is love relevant? Are relationships meaningful?
  • Why is The Catcher in the Rye controversial? Why has it been banned?
  • How does The Catcher in the Rye relate to current society? Is the novel still relevant?
  • Would you recommend this novel to a friend?

Perks of Being a Wallflower

Possible Discussion Questions

“But after a while, I didn’t do things because I didn’t want him to think different about me. But the thing is, I wasn’t being honest. So why would I care whether or not he loved me when he didn’t even really know me?” (page 201)

a.      Have you ever done things you didn’t want to to be accepted by a group of people you wanted to be friends with or by someone you wanted to date?

b.      What advice would you offer another incoming student about how to make friends?

c.       How easy is it to stay true to your values and beliefs when they are challenged by people you care about? Is it ever not just easier but necessary to compromise your beliefs to fit in? When?

“I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons.” (page 211)

a.      What/who has been instrumental in helping you become the person you are today?

b.      What things do you love or just like about who you are?

“But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there” (page 211).

a.      Have you had to overcome any obstacles on your way to SRU? If so, do you feel comfortable sharing them with the group?

b.      How do you think being at SRU might give you a chance to start your life over? What changes do you think you might make about who you are or the kind of person you want to be?

“I am very interested and fascinated by how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other” (page 56).

a.      Have you ever loved someone without liking them? Why? Do you think we should always like the people we love?

b.      Do you think you have to respect someone in order to love them? To like them? Why or why not? And can you respect someone without liking them?

“. . . things change. And friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody” (page 145).

a.      Do you think that there are some things in life that don’t – or shouldn’t – change? If so, what are they? When can change be a good thing?

b.      Have you ever experienced a change which was difficult but realized later that you learned or grew a lot from the experience? What happened?

c.       If change is inevitable, do you think that there are any “best” ways to cope with it? Do you have any ideas or strategies for how to handle change, especially when it is disorienting or difficult?

“`I would die for you. But I won’t live for you.’ . . . I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people” (page 169).

a.      What’s the difference between dying and living for someone else?

b.      How easy it is to tell when you’ve started “living for” someone else at the cost of your own life?         How do you balance your needs with those of others? Have you ever had to say “no” (maybe to a good friend or to a team or organization) because you couldn’t “live for them”? What happened?

“ . . . we accept the love we think we deserve” (page 24).

a.      Do you agree? Do you think we ever accept “love” that is bad or unkind or ungenerous even if we believe we don’t deserve it?

b.      Can love ever be “bad”? When?

c.       If you knew someone who was accepting love that was damaging to them, what would you do? What are your options in that situation?

“You ever think, Charlie, that our group is the same as any other group like the football team? And the only real difference between us is what we wear and why we wear it?” (page 155)

a.      Why do you think people split of into groups or cliques? When can that be okay, and at what point, if any, can it be bad? What are some of the payoffs of trying to accept other people despite differences? The risks?

b.      Do you think most of us really are alike, or not? If we are, why do you think we might splinter off into so many different groups? Judge others who aren’t like the people in our cliques?

c.       Do you think that college will offer opportunities to move beyond high school cliques? If so, do you think that’s good? Why or why not?

“`I feel infinite” (page 33).

a.         Have you ever felt infinite? Had a moment that felt perfect or so empowering and amazing that you cherish it? What, for you, might be the things that make such a moment possible?