The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger was originally published in 1951, but is still popular today. The book is most commonly used for scholastic purposes in high schools, known for its “coming of age” and culture themes. The story is told by Holden Caulfield, who is both the narrator and the protagonist. Holden tells the story in the past tense, but refrains from explaining why for many chapters. This novel is meant to be read into, featuring many consistent metaphors that are important to the plot such as windows, Holden’s hat, and even the title. This, along with a number of other factors, is what makes it a great book for high school literature.
The derivation of The Catcher in the Rye from a series of unrelated short stories--as well as Salinger's affection for the form of the short story--helps explain the pacing and relative lack of narrative continuity in the novel. No setting or character other than Holden continues in the novel for more than two consecutive chapters (which also may be a characteristic feature of Holden’s specific story). Holden, as narrator, is the only continuous character in the entire story. Characters such as Sally Hayes and Mr. Antolini appear only in one chapter and then mostly disappear. The first chapters of the novel, which are all set at Pencey, are the only ones that sustain the same characters and setting for an extended period. Furthermore, since Salinger reiterates thematic elements throughout the novel (in practically every chapter Holden complains about phonies), many of the chapters essentially could be short stories in themselves.