J. D. Salinger wrote The Catcher in the Rye in 1951 when he was 32 years old. To this day, it is the great American novel about growing up. Few other novels deal with the themes of teenage angst, loss, identity and connection as well. The novel’s protagonist, Holden Caulfield has become an icon for the alienated youth. See below for our favourite lines from this pivotal novel.

The Catcher In The Rye

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Maturity

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Don’t Ever Tell

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Among Other Things…

“Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Glad To Meet You

“I am always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Excitment

“I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Meaniing

“I don’t exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Certain Things

“Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Clapping

“People always clap for the wrong reasons.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Museum

“The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. You could go there a hundred thousand times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south, the deers would still be drinking out of that water hole, with their pretty antlers and they’re pretty, skinny legs, and that squaw with the naked bosom would still be weaving that same blanket. Nobody’s be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you’d be so much older or anything. It wouldn’t be that, exactly. You’d just be different, that’s all. You’d have an overcoat this time. Or the kid that was your partner in line the last time had got scarlet fever and you’d have a new partner. Or you’d have a substitute taking the class, instead of Miss Aigletinger. Or you’d heard your mother and father having a terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you’d just passed by one of those puddles in the street with gasoline rainbows in them. I mean you’d be different in some way—I can’t explain what I mean. And even if I could, I’m not sure I’d feel like it.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Some Kind Of Good-bye

“I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Showing Off

“If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don’t watch it, you start showing off. And then you’re not as good any more.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Grand

“Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.”
– J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye